Masculinity In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1684 Words 7 Pages
Oscar Wilde does an excellent job utilizing Heteronormativity and Homosocialality to portray masculinity throughout his book, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Heteronormativity is the idea that heterosexuality is the only established sexual orientation. While, Homosocialality focuses more on the idea that men can bond with men without being labeled homosexual. The three main characters, Basil, Lord Henry and Dorian, experience many situations that illustrate these two theories. There is also an erotic triangle that links the two enemies, Basil and Lord Henry, to a romance which is Dorian. These theories and the erotic triangle depict masculinity throughout the characters, which will be explained throughout this paper. To begin, The Picture of …show more content…
Basil, Henry and Dorian are stuck in this triangle together. The triangle states that, “the bond that links the two rivals is as intense and potent as the bond that links either of the rivals to the beloved” (Girad). The two rivals in this case are Basil and Henry and they are both linked to Dorian in a romance. The bond Between Basil and Henry can be seen as jealousy in my interpretation. In the scene where Dorian meets Henry, they are both fascinated by each other. Basil knows this and wants Henry to leave but henry asks to stay. This is where the first example of jealousy and rivalry come in. Basil bites his lip and says, “If Dorian wishes it, of course you must stay. Dorian’s whims are laws to everybody, except himself” (Wilde 21). Basil biting his lip shows that he doesn’t want Dorian and Henry to bond, Basil wants Dorian all to himself. Again we are faced with an example that threatens the masculinity of a character in this book. Basil’s obsession and jealousy over Dorian makes me question Basil’s sexuality. Masculine men’s sexuality is often not questioned because of the qualities they own; However, Basil owns very few of these qualities making him less masculine. Basil takes his jealousy one step further by saying, “and don’t move about too much, or pay any attention to what Lord Henry says. He has a very bad influence over all his friends, with the single exception of myself” …show more content…
For heteronormativity we look at being straight as the only sexual orientation. The examples I used were Henry being able to talk freely about his emotions towards Dorian. These emotions consisted of Henry calling him handsome and romantic. When we look at the theory homosocial, it is similar. Men can bond with men and not be homosexual. Basil and Henry can aggressively bond with Dorian and not be labeled queer. The difference about the homosocial is the male on male bonding. When you pair up these two theories they sort of make a dynamic duo. They make a world where you can bond, complement and obsess over someone from the same gender and be viewed as completely straight to society. The last thing that links these characters together is the erotic triangle I talked about. This triangle suggests that Basil and Henry are linked together by a bond of rivalry that is as strong as the bond that links them to a romance with Dorian. The triangle does a good job of demonstrating what is actually going on between these three characters. The main question here is what do these theories do to show what kind, if any, of masculinity these characters have. With all the examples I have given it is clear to see that these three characters are not the manliest bunch of three in the world. They show feminine qualities throughout this book instead of masculine. Things like complementing other males,

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