The Picture of Dorian Gray


Oscar Wilde

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The Picture of Dorian Gray: Style 1 key example

Chapter 1
Explanation and Analysis:

The Picture of Dorian Gray is written in an opulent and aestheticized style that is deliberately kept formal and aristocratic, as if to mimic Dorian Gray's own privileged lifestyle. This is apparent from the very beginning of the story:

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, 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, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo [...]

No details are spared in this description, nor will they be spared throughout the remainder of the story. Notably, however, the details all have to do with the beauty and luxury of the scene—and this careful inclusion of specific material luxuries is the embodiment of Wilde’s particular style. Everything is described in terms of its beauty, from the gleam of the flowers and the fantastic shadows of the birds to the light shining through the curtains. The opulence of Wilde’s writing is amplified to mirror the apparent opulence of the scenes he sets out to describe.