Dorian Grey

The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde: Gothic novel or not?

The picture of Dorian grey, was the one and only novel written by Oscar Wilde; born on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. The first edition was initially published in 1890 in Lippinicot´s Monthly Magazine but due to its bad reception and claims of being immoral by many critics, it was revised by Wilde and republished the following year. He began his writing career by publishing mediocre poems but later gained fame and reputation for his comic plays, most famous of all being ´The importance of being earnest´ (1895).

Wilde was not unfamiliar with the Gothic genre of literature as he had previously written a short-story´ The canterville ghost` which had many of the main characteristics of Gothic fiction. Along with this, it is said that he had based `The Picture of Dorian Grey` on one of the most famous pieces of Gothic fiction 'Melmoth the wanderer’ written by his Great-uncle, Charles R. Maturin, whom he took great pride in being related to. Having had this Gothic novel as inspiration is a reasonable explanation to why many Gothic elements appear throughout Dorian Grey.

It is without a doubt that there were several instances throughout this book in which Gothic elements appeared and my aim is to support this claim by analysing events that took place in the novel and elaborating on the atmosphere of certain parts of the novel which I thought were of Gothic nature. I will begin by giving a brief introduction on what Gothic fiction entails and later on relate this to The Picture of Dorian Grey.


The Gothic novel, also known as Gothic romance, is a literary genre which was almost entirely invented by Horace Warpole, whose novel ‘castle of Otranto´, a Gothic story (1764) contains all the essential elements and motifs of the Gothic genre. It was extremely popular in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century and its central attraction included tales of romance,...