Steps of a Narrative Structure in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

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Steps of a Narrative Structure in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

Fictional stories tend to have almost the same characterization regarding the fundamental lists of ingredients that include the initial situation or exposition, conflict, rise of action or complication, climax, fall of action or suspense, and denouement as well as a conclusion. In some stories, the authors may sometimes shake up their recipe and some spices to achieve a compelling narrative to the audience. Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is one such fictional narrative that follows the steps of a narrative structure. The story is written from an omniscient third-person point of view. The narrator of the story chronicles both the internal and external thoughts and feelings of the characters, and it is only in one instance that the narrator has used the first-person narrative. The steps of a narrative structure in the fictional narrative “The Picture of Dorian Gray” are arranged in such a manner that they begin from the introduction to the end of the story. The first two chapters are an introduction to Dorian’s nature as a model of youth and beauty.

The conflict of the story is introduced in chapters 3-10, trouble in paradise in which Dorian Gray gets into a relationship with Sibyl Vane. Dorian idealistically falls in love with a young girl Sibyl, but their relationship is short-lived since it doesn’t work out. Dorian realizes that Sibyl doesn’t live up to his expectations, and as a result, he is prepared to dump her, which he does without hesitation. On realizing this, Sibyl is offended, and she kills herself. Dorian acts like he doesn’t care, and rather than showing even the slightest signs of remorse and mourning her death, he doesn’t learn a lesson. Besides, Dorian goes ahead to read the yellow book and listens to Lord Henry, who has convinced him to live pleasurably and to the fullest since his beauty and youth shall not live forever. “If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old! For that – for that – I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” (Wilde 2). Soon, he gets over the whole thing. Sibyl’s death did not matter to him.

Rising action, which is also referred to as the complication, is found from chapters 10 through 11 in which Dorian Gray has been extremely poisoned by the book given to him by Lord Henry. At this point, it is not exactly sure what Dorian wants to do in the future. He has been greatly influenced by the yellow book, which has captivated his mind, only showing him that he has to enjoy the pleasures of the world while he is young. As a result, Dorian changes his way of living. Although things look peachy keen on the surface, some rumors emerge regarding Dorian’s secret, his evil deeds. “Even those who had heard the most evil things against him, and from time to time, strange rumors about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs, could not believe anything to his dishonor when they saw him” (Wilde 11). At this point, there are only a few details provided, and according to them, it seems like Dorian, the story’s hero, has completely changed sides – he has now taken the dark side.

The climax of the story begins from chapters 12 through 15, where Dorian is now evil, all time. At this stage, all the bets are off as Dorian seems to have lost it all, he has lost all vestiges of his previous self, and even for Basil, he has no feelings left. Previously, Basil was his best friend who even made his portrait, but now, Dorian is determined to kill him in a crime of passion, and feels like Basil brought it all to himself. “Hallward stirred in his chair as if he was going to rise. He rushed at him and dug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, crushing the man’s head down on the table and stabbing again and again” (Wilde 13). At this point, Dorian is more like Lord Henry, his mentor, who seems to be mostly full of vague sense of pity and contempt for everybody else. Furthermore, Dorian goes on to blackmail Alan Campbell, an ex-friend, in trying to cover for his evil deeds.

The falling action is seen in chapters 16 through 17, where Dorian is now deeply in fear. Basil’s murder has shaken him, and this is expected since he did it for no reason. He fears that he might get caught, and this is worsened when he discovers that James Vane, Sibyl’s brother is back and on the murderous prowl for him. For the first time, Dorian is wracked with the fear of death, and this is seen both in London and the countryside in Selby, where James follows him.

The denouement is found in chapters 18 through 20, where everything seems to work for Dorian. James Vane dies accidentally in the countryside, and this means that no one else is following him. Dorian feels relieved and wonders whether he should change his evil ways. However, the inevitable happens as he goes back to his evils ways. Frustrated by his actions, he stabs the portrait, thereby killing himself. His death brings to an end the evil life of Dorian Gray.

Works Cited

Wilde, Oscar. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Vol. 96. Pearson Longman, 2007.