GOTHIC REVOLUTIONS : Wilde's Ekphrastic Inheritance
During the nineteenth century, scholars and writers in England developed a keen interest in the relationship between art and society, due in large part to growing social unrest in the working class. While Matthew Arnold, for example, sees culture as a tool for uniting and reinforcing traditional social classes and values, thereby combating the social unrest and degradation he associates with anarchy, Oscar Wilde disagrees, embracing anarchy as a necessary means for establishing universal engagement with and creation of culture. This thesis accesses and asserts that in responding to Arnold, Wilde accesses and employs the Gothic Ekphrasis operative in other Victorian Gothic works of his period and builds upon the older Romantic ekphrastic tradition, to create in The Picture of Dorian Gray, an allegorical exemplum of his aesthetic ideology. Wilde's literary response to Arnold's ideology, The Picture of Dorian Gray, may be accessed though his rhetorical response, "The Soul of Man under Socialism." The later work then becomes a key for reading the function of ekphrasis in the former, in which the portrait's ability to operate beyond the confines of its frame in the narrative becomes a broader allegorical commentary on nineteenth-century society's fruitless desire to confine and moralize art. By drawing on the ekphrastic tradition of his nineteenth-century forbears and contemporaries, Wilde reflexively situates the function of ekphrasis within the nineteenth-century Gothic genre.
Urban, Christopher. (January 2015). GOTHIC REVOLUTIONS : Wilde's Ekphrastic Inheritance (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4898.)
Urban, Christopher. GOTHIC REVOLUTIONS : Wilde's Ekphrastic Inheritance. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2015. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4898. April 19, 2021.
Urban, Christopher, “GOTHIC REVOLUTIONS : Wilde's Ekphrastic Inheritance” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2015).
Urban, Christopher. GOTHIC REVOLUTIONS : Wilde's Ekphrastic Inheritance [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2015.
East Carolina University