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Beispielanalyse: Literarischer Text

Hier finen Sie eine Beispielanalyse zu einem Auszug aus Kapitel XIII aus Oscar Wildes Roman The Picture of Dorian Gray. Sie sollten diesen Auszug lesen, bevor Sie die Analyse lesen.

Tasks – Aufgabenstellung

1. Comprehension: Summarise the behaviour of the two men in the given passage from Oscar Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

2. Analysis: In what way is the atmosphere created in the present extract connected with the ending of the chapter?

1. Comprehension: Summarise the behaviour of the two men in the given passage from Oscar Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

The novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was written by Oscar Wilde and first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. It is about a young and beautiful man called Dorian Gray who inspires painter Basil Hallward to paint a magnificent portrait of him. Under the bad influence of Hallward's friend Lord Henry, he makes a wish that he could stay young and beautiful while the painting would grow older, thus selling his soul to the Forces of Darkness. His wish being grated, he leads a life of depravity, ruining the lives of many people and eventually killing the painter Basil Hallward. In the end, he inadvertently commits suicide in the attempt to destroy the painting because he is the painting.

In chapter XIII of the novel, Dorian Gray shows the painting, which has become the mirror of his diseased and depraved soul, to the painter Basil Hallward, who painted the fatal portrait, and murders him. In this extract from the beginning of the chapter, Dorian and Basil go upstairs to the old schoolroom where Dorian keeps the portrait. To begin with, both men climb the stairs very quietly because it is night. When they arrive at the door to the school room, Dorian calmly asks Basil if he really wants to the painting, which Basil just as calmly answers in the affirmative. Dorian looks pleased about this, but his behaviour hardens when he says that Basil is the only person in the world who has the right to see the painting.

2. Analysis: In what way is the atmosphere created in the present extract connected with the ending of the chapter?

The novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was written by Oscar Wilde and first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. It is about a young man called Dorian Gray who unknowingly sells his soul to the devil and stays young while a portrait of him grows old and becomes the mirror of his depraved soul.

In chapter XIII of Oscar Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Dorian Gray shows the painting, which has become the mirror of his diseased and depraved soul, to the painter Basil Hallward, who painted the fatal portrait, and murders him. In this extract from the beginning of the chapter, Dorian and Basil go upstairs to the old schoolroom where Dorian keeps the portrait. The following analysis will prove that the gothic, frightening atmosphere created foreshadows the ending of the chapter, in which Dorian murders Basil because he has now seen the fatal portrait.

The beginning of the chapter is reminiscent of a gothic novel or, in modern terms, a horror film. When Dorian and Basil go up to the schoolroom, a lamp is casting "fantastic shadows" (l. 3f.) on the wall. In addition, there is a "rising wind" (l. 4) which is making some "windows rattle" (l. 5). These two expressions create a mysterious and slightly frightening atmosphere. The reader can imagine going up in Basil's stead and being scared of the shadows. Moreover, the shadows suggest associations with demons or with hell. Hence, they foreshadow what is to come when Dorian reveals the portrait to Basil: Basil will see Dorian's soul, which he has pledged to the devil.

The atmosphere becomes even more frightening when the two men enter the schoolroom. When Dorian opens the door, a "cold current of air" (l. 15f.) comes out of the room. Cold draughts are generally associated with ghosts or other unworldly presences. Next, the gas light flickers once, probably just because it is touched by the cold air. However, the flame is described as being of a "murky orange" (l. 17) colour, so the reader knows that the room is really dark and gloomy in spite of the light, which is only "murky". What is more, it is not a merrily flickering flame, something alive, it is dark and gloomy. However, the flame might also call forth associations with the fires of hell. The furniture, which Basil Hallward looks at next, is old, broken and dusty. For example, there is a "faded Flemish tapestry" (l. 22), "an almost empty bookcase" (l. 23), "a half-burned candle" (l. 25) and "a carpet [full of] holes" (l. 27f.). All these pieces of furniture and décor hint at death and decay: a candle which has almost burnt down and is not burning, a moth-eaten carpet, a tapestry which has lost all its colour and a bookcase without books. The only living thing in the room is a mouse, but it quickly hides as soon as the men enter the room (cf. l. 28f.). Moreover, a mouse is a symbol of disease or pestilence and, therefore, death. Even the smell of the room can be associated with death: there is "a damp odour of mildew" (l. 29), so there is mould on the carpet and on the wood, everything is slowly decomposing. One can assume here that Basil's observations of the room foreshadow his own imminent death.

Next, Basil Hallward sees the portrait of Dorian Gray again for the first time since he painted it many years previously. With him, the reader finally sees what has become of the painting. Up until now, one only knew that the expression on the painted Dorian's face changed after his fi ancée's suicide, but how far the painting has really changed was a matter of speculation. Now, however, the reader sees the horrific painting through Basil's eyes. First, one can guess how horrible the painting has really become by Basil's reaction: "An exclamation of horror broke from the painter's face." (l. 38). A painting that makes a grown man cry out must be well and truly horrible. In addition, Basil becomes physically ill after looking at it for a while and trying to work out how it possibly could have changed: He has "the eyes of a sick man" (l. 61), "his mouth twitche[s], and his parched tongue seem[s] unable to articulate. [His forehead is] clammy with sweat" (l. 62–64). Moreover, he feels "as if his blood ha[s] changed in a moment from fire to sluggish ice" (l. 58f.) The reaction of his body corroborates the extent of horror. Finally, his feelings towards the painting are described as "disgust and loathing" (l. 41).

The description of the painting itself leaves few things to the reader's imagination. One reads of "a hideous face on the canvas" (l. 39f.) "sodden eyes" (l. 46) and "horror [spoiling] marvellous beauty" (l. 43f.). Since Basil can not believe that he is looking at his own work, he believes the painting to be "some foul parody, some infamous, ignoble satire" (l. 56f.) The choice of adjectives underlines how horrific the painting must look.

All in all one can say that the description of the atmosphere, the description of Basil Hallward's reaction to the painting and the first look at the altered painting which the reader gets in this passage suggests the severity of Dorian Gray's crimes and foreshadows what he is going to do, so the reader's subconscious is prepared for the imminent murder.

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