‘The novel’s contrasting settings portray a gulf between social classes in Victorian society.’ How far and in what ways do you agree with this view of The Picture of Dorian Gray?
The novel’s contrasting settings do portray a gulf between social classes in Victorian society but also represents the dualism in The Picture Of Dorian Gray. Wilde specifically chooses to pick two opposite settings, the East End and the West End, and ignores the middle class areas of London. This is due to the suggestion that Wilde wanted to convey class indifference explicitly and clearly in the novel, but also the double aspects of Dorian and his life.
Dorian comes from the West End of London, living in a very ...view middle of the document...
Comparing Lord Henry’s library to the Vane’s sitting room with its “still intrusive light” and “worn armchair”, we can see the great difference in wealth. And the fact that the Vane’s home is located in the East End, and Lord Henry’s is in the West End helps portray the gulf between social classes in Victorian society.
Although the novel’s contrasting settings show a difference between the social classes, the difference is only regarding to materialistic, and physical things such
as wealth. Some critics believe that all the characters in the novel are either “a representative of the id, the pleasure principle, or the superego, the morality principle without a balance between the two extremes”.
This is certainly true of Sibyl Vane and Alan Campbell, despite their contrasting social backgrounds they are very similair characters. Infact Alan Campbell is the male equivalent of Sibyl Vane, this is because both characters are talented and have great potential, Sibyl in her acting and Alan in his chemistry; they both draw attention from Dorian due to their mutual love for art, and in the end are both “destroyed” by Dorian. Sibyl commits her suicide at the theatre and Alan “(shoots) himself in his laboratory”. Therefore although they are both from two seperate opposing poles, The Picture Of the characters are very similar. In light of this comment Maho Hidak agrees and believes that the people of the West End are just “better at concealing their immorality”.
The contrasting setting also portrays class indiference in Victorian society. When Sibyl and James Vane take a walk in hyde Park, it is evident James Vane is uncomfortable as only “swell” people such as “Prince Charming” walk in Hyde Park. James is very aware of class indeference and therefore hates “gentlemen” like Dorian who are “dandys”. Ironically he gets killed by one of the “dandys” he hates so much. When Geoffrey kills James Vane he is only warned about his “shooting...