Advanced Placement Literature
Unsurprisingly for the gothic tale The Picture of Dorian Gray, vampirism and a strong biblical reference to a downward spiral from innocence are found lurking within the pages. Corresponding chapters of Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires” and “…Or the Bible” elaborated on these devices, which enhanced Wilde’s novel by adding levels and depth to it that the plot itself could never give.
Unadulterated innocence cannot stand long without a fall, as Wilde emphasizes in the early pages of his novel, playing on our knowledge of this universal truth that we all are familiar with from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In Chapter II, Basil Hallward has completed his portrait of the young Dorian, describing the boy to his friend Lord Henry Wotton as his masterpiece, unspotted from the world; much like man was when God created him in the Garden of Eden. However, the cynical Lord Henry is soon acquainted with Dorian, following him out into Hallward’s garden and beginning to tempt the beautiful boy with corrupted ideas disguised by his “romantic olive-colored face,” “low, languid voice,” “cool, white, flower-like hands,” and “curious charm” (Wilde 23). Henry presents himself to Dorian in the same way that Satan disguises sin, making it seem desirable, even reasonable. In the garden – and it cannot be a coincidence that this scene occurs in a garden – Dorian receives knowledge about himself that changes his perspective and gives him the desire for passion and youth, culminating in the selling of his soul for eternal beauty. Lord Henry tells him he is unconscious of who he really could be if he had knowledge. Satan used the same persuasion with Eve, saying “your eyes will be opened” (New American Standard Bible, Gen. 3:5) after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After Dorian hears these...