The Picture of Dorian Gray

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White and Red Symbol Analysis

White and Red Symbol Icon
Colors symbolic of purity and innocence and sin and gore populate the story at crucial moments. One of the first noticeable examples is when Sybil’s Vane’s body is described as “little” and “white”, emphasizing her ruined purity. Dorian’s devolvement into a monstrous, unnatural figure is stained with bloody colors. Increasingly, as we move towards the climax of the novel, redness seems to gather until Dorian starts to see blood-like marks on his portrait. These color symbols create a visual surface in the text, showing us clearly the difference between right and wrong and giving the action a kind of painted effect.

White and Red Quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes below all refer to the symbol of White and Red. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray published in 2003.
Chapter 14 Quotes

What was that loathsome red dew that gleamed, wet and glistening, on one of the hands, as though the canvas had sweated blood?

Related Characters: Dorian Gray
Related Symbols: White and Red, The Picture
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

Having stabbed Basil to death in the room where the portrait sits, Dorian begs his former friend Alan Campbell to assist him with disposing of Basil's body. As Dorian opens the door, he is less horrified by the sight of Basil's corpse than by the change the portrait has undergone as a result of the murder: the image of Dorian now has lifelike blood on its hands. Once again, blood is closely linked to the symbol of redness, a visual manifestation of Dorian's sins. The description of the blood in this passage is significant for its grotesque vividness. The narrator's statement that the canvas "sweated blood" implies that the painting has literally become alive; if this is true, it suggests that Dorian might not be fully alive himself. 

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White and Red Symbol Timeline in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The timeline below shows where the symbol White and Red appears in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
...body”, Dorian orders Basil to stop. He says that the incident is over, he has mastered the emotion of it, and they must no longer think about it. Basil can’t believe... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
...body, and is suddenly filled with new terror at its appearance, at its stillness and long white hands . He locks up the room and goes down to the library. He says to... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
...these things come from vanity. As he becomes more and more distressed, he notices that red stains have grown on the painting, like blood. He considers making a confession. His own... (full context)