The Picture of Dorian Gray

by

Oscar Wilde

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Picture of Dorian Gray can help.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Alliteration 1 key example

Definition of Alliteration
Alliteration is a figure of speech in which the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the “b” sound in: “Bob brought the box of bricks to... read full definition
Alliteration is a figure of speech in which the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the “b” sound in: “Bob brought... read full definition
Alliteration is a figure of speech in which the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the... read full definition
Chapter 1
Explanation and Analysis—Bear the Burden of Beauty:

Oscar Wilde's prose is strengthened by his attention to the sounds of language, and to that end he makes frequent use of alliteration. This is apparent from the very first pages of the story:

Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window[...]

With the sumptuous sounds of the words set to mirror the extravagance of the scene, Wilde firmly establishes his commitment to aestheticism. The repetition of bs and fs in this passage have a lulling effect on the reader, conjuring the image and even the sweet scent of the golden laburnum tree and the fleeting shadows of the flitting birds. Such alliteration isn't technically necessary, but it serves to draw the reader deeper into the novel. By crafting his language for its sound as well as its meaning, he takes one step closer to the aesthetic ideal of total sensory immersion. As the story unfolds, Wilde will spare no device to make his craft as finely composed and evocative as possible.