Dorian Gray Passage: Literary Analysis
In this scene, Wilde creates a threatening atmosphere as he describes Dorian heading to the Opium House at night, a place that represents his sins. Dorian’s carriage “jerks” into a “dark” area, the sudden movement suggesting that the horse is instinctively nervous or scared. And the “low roofs and jagged chimney-stacks” that looked like “black masts” shrouded by a mist of “ghostly sails” paint a nightmarish image of hostility due to harsh words like jagged, and fear with mentions of ghosts; both add to the tension. In the next paragraph Wilde uses diction such as “hastily” and “quickly” to build the suspense with Dorian’s obvious discomfort in the situation and desire to get out of the open. Then, Wilde uses light imagery to illustrate a dark setting which would explain Dorian’s fear. The description that the night was lit by a “red glare” and “lights [that] shook and splintered in the puddles” contributes to the uneasiness because red is often the color of evil and shaking lights can be associated with panic. Dorian’s anxiety heightens as he “hurried” and “[glanced] back now and then to see if he was being followed”. His actions suggest that he is paranoid and running from something, causing the environment around him to appear more threatening. And finally, Wilde’s description of “gaunt factories” completes the image of a foreboding neighborhood because even at night, factories are supposed to appear formidable, not desolate as if they couldn’t stand up to their surroundings.
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