Archetypes In Shakespeare's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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In literature, an archetype is known as a universal pattern that could be a character, theme, symbol, or a setting. Common archetypes can be used to analyze and contrast different works of literature. In the poem, Ode to a Nightingale, the author John Keats makes connections with archetypes as well as Oscar Wilde in his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. By comparing Wilde and Keats’ use of archetypes, the reader can see that their work manifests similar archetypes that approaches different theories along with other works that have been discussed in class. According to Northrop Frye’s theory of archetypes, there are four phases of the year that can be outlined by archetypes: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. When contrasting Oscar Wilde,…show more content…
Refusal of the return, which is one of the stages of a hero’s journey describes where the hero refuses to return to the ordinary world. This stage can be seen in the works of Wilde, Keats, and Lawrence. In the poem, Ode to a Nightingale, it is shown that the protagonist refuses to return to reality when he says, “Forlorn! The very word is like a bell” (L71) where it implies that the word “forlorn” that means abandonment is the alarm clock that is waking him up from a good dream; this states that the protagonist refuses to go back to reality, considering that he wants to stay in the nightingale’s world with a carefree life. Comparing to The Picture of Dorian Gray, it also illustrates the refusal of the return when Dorian is intrigued by “The Yellow Book” which symbolizes the poisonous influence Lord Henry has on him. After the death of Sibyl, Dorian feels responsible for her death knowing that his horrible words towards her was the cause of it. Lord Henry then lends Dorian “The Yellow Book” which is about a character who is beautiful with an immoral life of sin that reminds Dorian of himself. However, the character in the book suddenly loses his beauty which terrifies Dorian thinking that the same thing would happen to him as he thought the character’s sudden change was “remarkable” (138). The Yellow Book started to influence Dorian and still continued to have a…show more content…
The initiation is an archetypal situation where the protagonist undergoes experience that led him towards maturity. The initiation can be seen in the works of Ode to a Nightingale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Robertson’s novel, Fifth Business. In Ode to a Nightingale, the protagonist undergoes experiences in the beginning when he is “already with thee!” (L35) The protagonists experiences the nightingale’s world and sees it as reality, but as he is abandoned by the nightingale in his dream, he starts to come back to reality. By the end of the poem he says, “Was it a vision, or a waking dream?” (L79) where he realizes that the experience in the nightingale’s realm was just a “waking dream” and not reality. When the protagonist comes to realization, this shows that his experience has led him towards maturity in the end. Similarly, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray goes on a journey from immaturity to maturity. After he sees the corruption of his soul, he decides to change his ways and be “good”. After the death of James Vane, Sibyl’s brother, Dorian believes that his death is bad omen and it has shaken Dorian significantly as he says, “I am too much concentrated on myself. My own personality has become a burden to me.” (221) Dorian tries to change his ways and start a new life, and what better way to destroy the one thing that is restricting him from being good?

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