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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) The brilliant artist and the dandy

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Oscar Wilde


The brilliant artist and the dandy
Oscar Wilde, the son of a surgeon and of an ambitious literary woman, was born in Dublin in 1854. After attending Trinity College in Dublin, he was sent to Oxford where he gained a first class degree in Classics and distinguished himself for his eccentricity. He became a disciple of Walter Pater, the theorist of aestheticism in England () T120), accepting the theory of 'Art for Art's Sake'; he defined himself as "a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture" of his time. After graduating, he left Oxford and settled in London where he soon became a fashionable dandy for his extraordinary wit and his foppish way of dressing.

In 1881 Wilde edited, at his own expense, Poems, and was engaged for a tour in the United States where he held some lectures about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetes. On his arrival in New York he told reporters that aestheticism was a search for the beautiful, a science through which men looked for the relationship existing between painting, sculpture and poetry, which were simply different forms of the same truth. The tour was a remarkable personal success for Wilde. On his return to Europe in 1883, he married Constance Lloyd who bore him two children, but he soon became tired of his marriage. At this point of his career he was most noted as a great talker: his presence became a social event and his remarks appeared in the most fashionable London magazines. As a tribute to his dandified aestheticism, women wore sprays of lilies and many young men wore lilies in the buttonholes of their coats.

In the late 1880s Wilde's literary talent was revealed by a series of short stories, The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, The Happy Prince and Other Tales written for his children and the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray(1891). After his firsst and only novel he developed an interest in drama and revived the comedy of manners () T118). In the 1890s he produced a series of plays which were successful on the London stage: Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No lmportance (1893), An ldeal Husband' (1895), The lmportance of Being Earnest (1895), his masterpiece, and the tragedy in French Salomé (1893). However, both the novel and the tragedy damaged the writer's reputation, since the former was considered immoral, and the latter was prevented from appearing on the London stage owing to its presumed obscenity.

In 1891 he met the young and handsome Lord Alfred Douglas with whom Wilde dared to have a homosexual affair. The boy's father, the Marquess of Queensbury, forced a public trial and Wilde was convicted of homosexual practices and subsequently sentenced to two-year hard labour. While in prison he wrote De Profundis, a long letter to explain his life and to condemn Lord Alfred Douglas for abandoning him; this work was published posthumously in 1905. He also wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898. Wilde's trial brought out all the homophobia that had long been building up in England and America. Even the aesthetic movement in art suffered a setback as a result of the revolt against Oscar Wilde. When Wilde was released from prison, he lived in France under an assumed name as an outcast in poverty. He died of meningitis in Paris in 1900.

A professor of aesthetic

Wilde totally adopted "the aesthetic ideal", as he affirmed in one of his famous conversations: "My life ­like a work of art". He lived in the double role of rebel and dandy. The dandy must be distinguished from the bohemian: while the bohemian allies himself to the masses, the urban proletariat, the dandy is a bourgeois artist, who, in spite of his uneasiness, remains a member of his class.

The Wildean dandy is an aristocrat whose elegance is a symbol of the superiority of his spirit; he uses his wit to shock, and is an individualist who demands absolute freedom. Since life was meant for pleasure, and pleasure was an indulgence in the beautiful, beautiful clothes, beautiful talks, delicious food, and handsome boys were Wilde's main interests. He affirmed in the Preface of his novel "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all". In this way he rejected the didacticism that had characterised the Victorian novel in the first half of the century.
Art for Art's Sake
The concept of 'Art for Art's Sake' was to him a moral imperative and not merely an aesthetic one. He believed that' only "Art as the cult of Beauty" could prevent the murder of the soul. Wilde perceived the artist as an alien in a materialistic world, he wrote only to please himself and was not concerned with communicating his theories to his fellow-beings. His pursuit of beauty and fulfilment was the tragic act of a superior being inevitably turned into an outcast.

Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

The Plot

The novel is set in London at the end of the 19th century. The protagonist is Dorian Gray, a young man whose beauty fascinates a painter, Basil Hallward, who decides to portray him. While the young man's desires are satisfied, including that of eternal youth, the signs of age, experience and vice appear on the portrait. Dorian lives only for pleasure, making use of everybody and letting people die because of his insensitivity. When the painter sees the corrupted image of the portrait, Dorian kills him. Later Dorian wants to free himself of the portrait, witness to his spiritual corruption, and stabs it, but he mysteriously kills himself. In the very moment of death the picture returns to its original purity, and Dorian's face becomes "withered, wrinkled, and loathsome".

Narrative technique

This story is told by an unobtrusive third-person narrator; the perspective adopted is internal since Dorian's apparition in the second chapter and this allows a process of identification between the reader and the character. The settings are vividly described with words appealing to the senses, the characters reveal themselves through what they say or what other people say of them, according to a technique which is typical of drama.

Allegorical meaning

The story is profoundly allegorical; it is a 19th-century version of the myth of Faust, the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil so that all his desires might be satisfied. This soul becomes the picture, which records the signs of time, the corruption, the horror and the sins concealed under the mask of Dorian’s timeless beauty. WiIde plays on the Renaissance idea of the correspondence existing between the physical and spiritual realms: beautiful people are moral people; ugly people are immoral people. His variation on this theme is in his use of the magical portrait. The picture is not an autonomous self: it stands for the dark side of Dorian's personality, his double, which he tries to forget by locking it in a room.

The moral of this novel is that every excess must be punished and reality cannot be escaped; when Dorian destroys the picture, he cannot avoid the punishment for all his sins, that is, death. The horrible, corrupting picture could be seen as a symbol of the immorality and bad conscience of Victorian middle class, while Dorian and his pure, innocent appearance are symbols of bourgeois hypocrisy. Finally the picture, restored to its original beauty, illustrates WiIde's theories of art: art survives people, art is eternal.


1. Test your knowledge about the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by answering the following questions.

  • Where and when does the novel take place?

  • Who is Dorian Gray?

  • What does the picture symbolise?

  • What narrative technique is

  • What is the moral of the novel?

  • What narrative technique is employed?

2. This is a self-portrait of A. Beardsley (1872-1898), the art editor of The Yellow Book. The portrait

seems to be divided into halves by a vertical line. What does this make you think of? This picture is

also characterised by the lack of colour. Do you think the artist's use of black and white may symbolise the double nature of man? Look at the hairstyle of the man: what does it suggest as regards his customs and the social class he belongs to?

3. Do you think that the exaggerated cult of beauty of contemporary men in show business is indebted to the ideas of the 19th-century Aesthetic movement?

I would give my soul”

In the following passage Lord Henry Wotton meets Dorian Gray and he finds him to be totally un-self­-conscious about his beauty. They are both enthralled by the beauty that the painter Basil has captured in the finished portrait of Dorian.

"Some day, when you are old and wrinkled1 and ugly, when thought has seared2 your forehead with its lines, and passion branded3 your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly. Now, wherever you go, you charm the world. Will it always be so? ... You have a wonderfully beautiful face, Mr Gray.

5 Don't frown4. You have. And beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it. You smile? Ah! when you have lost it you won't 10 smile... People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. That may be so, but at least it is not so superficial as thought is. To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow5 people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible... Yes, Mr Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they

15 quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. Every month as it wanes6 brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and

20 your roses. You will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed7. You will suffer horribly... Ah! realize your youth while you have it. Don't squander8 the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar.

These are the sickly aims9, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the

25 wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching

for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing ... A new Hedonism - that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol. With your personality there is nothing you could not do. The world belongs to you for a season...

Oscar Wilde


The Picture of

Dorian Gray


Chapter 2

1. wrinkled. Grinzoso.

2. has seared. avrà


3. branded. Bruciato,


4. Don't frown. Non

aggrottate le


5. shallow. Superficiali. 6. wanes. Svanisce.


7. sallow...dull­-eyed.

Giallo. con guance

incavate. e con occhi


8. squander. Sprecare

9. the sickly aims. Le

aspirazioni morbose.

10 charmed. Ha


11. were wasted. Fossi


12. hill-flowers

wither. Fiori di

campo appassiscono.

The moment I met you I saw that you were quite unconscious of what you really are, of what you really might be.

30 There was so much in you that charmed10 me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted11. For there is such a little time that your youth will last - such a little time. The common hill-flowers wither12, but they blossom13 again. The laburnum14 will be as yellow next June as it is now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis15 and year after year the green night of its

35 leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish16. Our limbs fail17, our senses rot18. We degenerate into hideous puppets19, haunted20 by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to21.

40 Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!"

Dorian Gray listened, open-eyed and wondering. [...]

Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly22 in front of his picture and

turned towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. He stood there motionless and in wonder,

45 dimly23 conscious that Hallward was speaking to him, but not catching the meaning of his words. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. He had never felt it before. Basil Hallward's compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggeration of friendship. He had listened to them, laughed at them, forgotten them. They had not influenced

50 his nature. Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth24, his terrible warning of its brevity.­ That had stirred25 him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him26. Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen27, his eyes dim and colourless,

55 the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away

from his lips and the gold steal from his hair28. The life that was to make

his soul would mar29 his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, uncouth30. As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck through him like a knife and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver31. His eyes deepened into

60 amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. He felt as if a hand of ice had

been laid upon his heart.

"Don't you like it?" cried Hallward at last, stung32 a little by the lad's 33

silence not understanding what it meant.

"Of course he likes it," said Lord Henry. "Who wouldn't like it? It is one of

65 greatest things in modem art. I will give you anything you like to ask for it. I

have it."

"It is not my property, Harry."

"Whose property is it?"

"Dorian's, of course," answered the painter.

70 "He is a very lucky fellow."

"How sad it is!" murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his

portrait. "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this

picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day

of June. . .. If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young,

75 and the picture that was to grow old! For that - for that - I would give everything!

there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul


13. blossom. Fioriscono.

14. laburnum. Citiso

(piccolo arbusto con

fiori gialli).

15 clematis. Clematide

(pianta rampicante).

16. becomes sluggish.

Si intorpidisce.

17 Our Iimbs faiL

Le nostre membra diventano fiacche.

18. our senses rot.

I nostri sensi si


19. hideous puppets.

Orrendi fantocci.

20. haunted.


21. to yield to. Cedere. 22. listlessly.


23. dimIy. Debolmente.

24. panegyric on youth. Panegirico (esaltazione) della


25. had stirred. Aveva turbato.

26. the full... him. La piena esattezza della descrizione balenò dinanzi a lui.

27. wizen. Rugoso.

28. the gold ... hair.

L’oro sarebbe scomparso dai suoi capelli

29. would mar.

Avrebbe distrutto. 30. uncouth. Goffo.

31. quiver. Tremare.

32. stung. Ferito.

33 lad. Ragazzo.

Work on the text – CONTENTS

1. Read the text from line 1 to line 40 and answer the following questions.

1. What does Lord Henry tell Dorian about beauty?

2. What is youth according to him?

3. What does he implore Dorian to do?

4. What advice does he give Dorian?

5. What does their age require?

6. What could Dorian be the symbol of?
2. Read the rest of the passage and say:

1. what Dorian realises looking at his portrait;

2. what feelings the picture has created in his soul;

3. what will happen to the portrait and to Dorian himself in the future;

4. what Dorian wishes.

3. State which kind of narrator tells this story, and if he openly intervenes in the narration. Whose point of view is adopted throughout?
4. Focus on the characters presented in this passage, Lord Henry, Basil Hallward, and Dorian Gray.

1. What social class do they belong to?

2. What kind of man is Lord Henry? He speaks through paradox; find some examples in the first part of the text.

3. Say how Lord Henry exerts his influence on Dorian Gray.

4. Lord Henry's speech contains words and phrases conveying the ideas of youth, beauty and old age.

Underline them in the text and collect your data in a table.




5. What image of youth. beauty and old age are depicted by Lord Henry?.


The following passage is from the final chapter of the novel when the story reaches its climax in an unexpected and

dramatic way with Dorian's dreadful metamorphosis.

Oscar Wilde


The Picture of

Dorian Gray


Chapter 20

It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm, and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. .As he strolled home, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress passed him. He heard one of them whisper to the other, "That is Dorian Gray." He remembered how pleased he used to be when he was pointed out, or stared at, or talked about.

5 He was tired of hearing his own name now. Half the charm of the little village where he had been so often lately was that no one knew who he was. He had often told the

girl whom he had lured1 to love him that he was poor, and she had believed him.

He had told her once that he was wicked2, and she had laughed at him, and

10 answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh she had! - just like a thrush3 singing. And how pretty she had been in her cotton dress and her large hats! She knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost.

When he reached home, he found his servant waiting up for him. He sent him

15 to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the library, and began to think over

some of the things that Lord Henry had said to him.

Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild longing4 for the

unstained purity of his boyhood - his rose-white boyhood, as Lord Henry had once called

it. He knew that he had tarnished5 himself, filled his mind with corruption, and given horror

20 to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others, and had experienced a terrible

joy in being so; and that, of the lives that had crossed his own, it had been the fairest and

the most full of promise that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable? Was

there no hope for him?

Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride and passion he had prayed that the

25 portrait should bear the burden7 of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour

of eternal youth! All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of his life

had brought its sure, swift penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not

"Forgive us our sins," but "Smite8 us for our iniquities," should be the prayer of a man to a

most just God.

30 The curiously carved mirror that Lord Henry had given to him, so many years

ago now, was standing on the table, and the white limbed Cupids laughed round it as of old9. He took it up, as he had done on that night of horror, when he had first noted the change in the fatal picture, and with wild, tear-dimmed eyes looked into its polished shield. Once, some one who had terribly loved him had written to him a mad letter,

35 ending with these idolatrous words: "The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history." The phrases came back to his memory, and he repeated them over and over to himself. Then he loathed his own beauty, and, flinging the mirror on the floor, crushed10 it into silver splinters11 beneath his heel. It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed

40 for. But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had

been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery12. What was youth at best? A green,

an unripe time, a time of shallow moods13 and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its

livery14? Youth had spoiled him.

45 It was better not to think of the past. Nothing could alter that. It was of himself,

and of his own future, that he had to think. James Vane was hidden in a nameless grave in Selby Churchyard. Alan Campbell had shot himself one night in his laboratory, but had not revealed the secret that he had been forced to know. The excitement, such as it was, over Basil Hallward's disappearance would soon pass away. It was already waning15. He

50 was perfectly safe there. Nor, indeed, was it the death of Basil Hallward that weighed most upon his mind. It was the living death of his own soul that troubled him. Basil had painted the portrait that had marred16 his life. He could not forgive him that. It was the portrait that had done everything. Basil had said things to him that were unbearable, and that he had yet borne with patience. The murder had been simply the madness of a

55 moment. As for Alan Campbell, his suicide had been his own act. He had chosen to do it. It was nothing to him.

A new life! That was what he wanted. That was what he was waiting for. Surely

he had begun it already. He had spared one innocent thing, at any rate. He would

60 never again tempt innocence. He would be good.

As he thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. He would go and look.

65 He took the lamp from the table and crept upstairs. As he unbarred17 the door

a smile of joy flitted18 across his strangely young-looking face and lingered19 for a moment about his lips. Yes, he would be good, and the hideous thing that he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to him. He felt as if the load21 had been lifted from him already.

1. lured. Indotto.

2. wicked. Malvagio.

3. thrush. Tordo.

4. longing. Desiderio


5. had tarnished.

Aveva macchiato.

6. irretrievable.


7. bear the burden.

Sostenere il fardello.

8. Smite. Punisci.

9. as of old. Come

un tempo

10. crushed. Lett:

schiacciò; qui: ridusse.

11 splinters.



12. mockery. Beffa. 13 shallow moods.

Umori frivoli.

14.livery. Livrea.

15 waning.


16 had marred.

Aveva rovinato.

17 unbarred. Tolse

iI catenaccio.

18 flitted. Balenò.

19 lingered. lndugiò.

20 hideous thing.

cosa odiosa. ripugnante (il quadro).

21 load. Peso.

22. cunning.





Macchiava. :

25 dripped. Gocciolato.

26 To give himselfup.



70 He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and

dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning22, and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome23 - more loathsome, if possible, than before - and the scarlet dew that spotted24 the hand

75 seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilt. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible

80 disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped25 - blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up26, and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him?

85 There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had

been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would

simply say that he was mad. They would shut him up if he persisted in his story... Yet it

was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement27. There

was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing

90 that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his

shoulders. The death of Basil Hallward seemed very little to him. He was thinking of

Hetty Merton. For it was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at.

Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than

that? There had been something more. At least he thought so. But who could tell?.. No.

95 There had been nothing more. Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had

worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. He

recognised that now.

But this murder - was it to dog28 him all his life? Was he always to be burdened by

his past? Was he really to confess? Never. There was only one bit of evidence29 left

100 against him. The picture itself - that was evidence. He would destroy it. Why had he

kept it so long? Once it had given him pleasure to watch it changing and growing old.

Of late he had felt no such pleasure. It had kept him awake at night. When he had

been away, he had been filled with terror lest30 other eyes should look upon it. It had

brought melancholy across his passions. Its mere memory had marred many

105 moments of joy. It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He

would destroy it.

He looked round, and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had

cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright, and

glistened31. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter's work, and all that

110 that meant. It would kill the past and when that was dead he would be free. It would

kill this monstrous soul-life, and, without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace.

He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it.

There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its agony that the

frightened servants woke, and crept out of their rooms. Two gentlemen, who were

115 passing in the Square below, stopped, and looked up at the great house. They walked

on till they met a policeman, and brought him back. The man rang the bell several

times, but there was no answer. Except for a light in one of the top windows, the

house was all dark. After a time, he went away and stood in an adjoining portico and


120 Whose house is that, constable?" asked the elder of the two gentlemen.

"Mr Dorian Gray's, sir," answered the policeman.

They looked at each other, as they walked away, and sneered32. One of them

was Sir Henry Ashton's uncle.

Inside, in the servants' part of the house, the half-clad33 domestics were talking in 125 low whispers to each other. Old Mrs Leaf was crying and wringing her hands. Francis

was as pale as death.

27 atonement


28. to dog. Perseguitare.

29. evidence. Prova.

30. lest.

Per paura che.

31. glistened. Brillava.

32. sneered 90


33. half-clad.

Parzialmente vestiti.

34. bolts. Serrature,


After about quarter of an hour, he got the coachman and one of the footmen and crept

upstairs. They knocked, but there was no reply. They called out. Everything was still.

Finally, after vainly trying to force the door, they got on the roof, and dropped down on to

130 the balcony. The windows yielded easily; their bolts34 were old.

When they entered they found, hanging upon the wall, a splendid portrait of their

master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying

on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered,

wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they

135 recognised who it was.

Work on the text


1. As you read find out:

1. what references Dorian Gray makes to his past;

2. how he tries to justify himself;

3. what he thinks about his beauty;

4. what the portrait makes him understand about his recent actions;

5. what he decides to do;

6. why he does this;

7. what happens as a result.

2. Concentrate on the character of Dorian Gray.
1. Say what feelings he shows while looking at the picture. How does he judge his own behaviour?

2. What does the portrait mean to Dorian? Does he see it as the reflection of his own soul or as an independent being, extraneous to himself?

3. Read lines 17-111 again. Here Dorian Gray is aware of his sins and crimes. which are reflected on the

picture, as well as of the fact that it is impossible to escape old age and death. In the attempt to

change his reality, he looks back at his .”unstained” boyhood with a sort of nostalgia and wonders if it

is possible to destroy his maturity, which has become hideous to him, and put an end to his life of

corruption. Before reaching the final decision to destroy the picture, Dorian's thought follows different

steps. Link each of them to the corresponding lines in the passage.

a. nostalgia for his pure boyhood lines . . .

b. awareness of his corruption lines . . .

c. recollection of his pact to keep eternal youth lines. . .

d. wish for repentance and purification lines . ..

e. awareness that youth and beauty have caused his ruin lines ..,

f. wish to free himself from the past lines . . .

g. understanding that repentance was pure illusion lines . ..

h. decision to destroy the picture lines ...

3. Why does Dorian kill himself in stabbing the portrait? What does the portrait


4. Examine the language of the passage.

1. Consider the examples of parallelisms in lines 8-98 and complete the scheme below. An example has been provided for you:

a. wicked people: always very old and ugly line 10

b. his beauty: line 41

c. his youth: line 42

d. his youth: lines 42-43

e. the picture: lines 92-93

f. the picture: line 101

2. The first parallelism is the creed that has inspired the whole life of Dorian Gray, which seems to be

contradicted by the other statements. Why?

3. Which sentences are used to express Dorian's doubts about his salvation? Underline them.

4. Find the references to the mirror. Comment on the meaning of this suggestive detail in the story.

5. Circle the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs which describe the picture in lines 70-83. Which

semantic area do they belong to?

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