Comparing Poe And Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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Understanding both Poe and Wilde’s narrative styles is extremely important in fully understanding the texts and the authors behind those texts, for example on one hand Poe throws the reader into an already finished story in ‘William Wilson’, while in The Picture of Dorian and Gray Wilde’s use of aestheticism is undeniable. However unusually for Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray is also Gothic, this interesting departure from Wilde’s usual aesthetic style has been the subject of much debate and discussion among scholars, nonetheless for Sucur in The Picture of Dorian and Gray “the Gothic is dealt with from an aesthetic perspective”, (Sucur 2007, n.p.) yet the question still remains why would Wilde chose to depart from his successful formula of…show more content…
For someone like Wilde, who as we have seen longed for the acceptance of his contemporise and superiors chose writing as his only true from of expression, a which through which he could fully be himself without the watchful eye of bourgeois Victorian society. Writing surely provided a means of escapism for this sense of loss, and for Wilde throughout his career aestheticism provided the perfect method of expression. So why for The Picture of Dorian Gray did Wilde turn towards the Gothic? Ultimately in The Picture of Dorian and Gray Wilde is writing against the ‘Paterian’ aesthetic of the day (Scheible 2014, 132) because he is using the Gothic tropes of doubling taken from Poe. Wilde’s aestheticism is foundationally different because he is Irish, thus it allows him to disconnect himself from the framework of British aestheticism, which the likes of Pater followed so rigorously. His detachment from the ‘aesthetic literary rules’ meant he was able to launch a full-scale attack on the British bourgeois class corruption through vice. Through the use of his own framework Wilde’s Irishness becomes of the upmost importance, as he…show more content…
He is the master of American horror yet with close examination he writing style is not so different from Wilde’s, just like Wilde he was partial to using aestheticism, his writing style is so often referred to his ‘addiction to adjectives’. Interestingly for Poe unlike so many of his contemporise, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson he wasn’t a ‘great American dream story writer’, whereas Emerson belonged to the mainstream national narrative, who saw American as new, full of potential and belonged to the transcendentalist movement, Poe illustrated America through a counter narrative. Emerson’s American offered hope, while Poe’s America offered death, decay and despair, not a new land but a decaying one; if Emerson looked outwards Poe most certainly looked inward. Poe’s narrative style can be seen as the great narrative of death and decay in America, but it is essential to examine why? Firstly modern readers can assume that a primary reason for Poe’s obsession with all things dead and decaying was because Poe suffered great death and loss in his life, described by Killis Campbell as “the saddest and strangest figure in American literary history”. (1991, 12) Poe’s entire life seemed to revolve around death and despair, when he
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