Homosexual Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray
In spite of the novel’s heterosexual text, many critics agree that it has various homosexual elements in its characters, in the dialogues, and even in the portrait itself. One of the critics, Richard Dellamora, mentions this feature of the text, and comments that “By definition this context is heterosexual. Wotton is married and pursues actresses. Basil himself is a graduate of Oxford, a well-established artist, and respectable to a fault” (28). However, he also remarks the intensity of male friendships, and referring to Basil, he continues “Later, he repeatedly enjoins Dorian to conformity. Both older men live in a network of male friendships that ramify through the novel ” (28). As we can infer from what Dellamora says, it is obvious that all the homosexual events are happening in a heterosexual milieu. Examples of this situation might be Dorian’s love for Sybil, and Lord Henry’s marriage, which make them seem rather heterosexual men.
In this narrative, we mostly see the homosexuality as a male desire, in other words a desire for a beautiful male body or attractive male images. Ed Cohen suggests that Dorian Gray himself represents the male desire: “Within the narrative structure, Dorian is an image – a space for the constitution of male desire” (806). His observation of how Basil Hallward sees Dorian Gray as a male desire is that, “Dorian’s ‘personality’ enchants Basil and throws him back upon himself, evoking a physical response that is then translated into a psychic, verbally encoded interpretation…His fascination withDorian leads him to foreground their erotic connection… and at the same time legitimate it in the sublimated language o…
…ry’s competition with Basil for this handsome young model, Dorian’s admiration for his own beautiful body, and the portrait’s visionary descriptions of male beauty are the clues of the male characters’ homosexual identities. Even though Wilde does not articulate this phenomenon of his men, it is such a strong impression that homosexuality covers the whole story.
Cohen, Ed. “Writing Gone Wilde: Homoerotic Desire in the Closet of Representation” PMLA 102 (1987): 801-13.
Dellamora, Richard. “Representation and Homophobia in The Picture of Dorian Gray” The Victorian Newsletter 73 (1988): 28-31.
Gold, Barri J. “The Domination of Dorian Gray” The Victorian Newsletter 91 (1997): 27-30.
Jullian, Philippe. Oscar Wilde. New York: The Viking Press, 1969: 213-223.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. London: Penguin English, 1992.