Use of Floral Imagery and Symbolism in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

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INTRODUCTION: During the Victorian Era, the upper class was known for their proper etiquette. Though there were numerous customs and guidelines, certain behaviors were prohibited as they were seen as inappropriate for various reasons, ranging from subtle flirtation to outright indecency. It was often found impolite or rude to ask or imply certain things about a person, especially because the Victorian Era’s rigid class system in England served as a barrier between genders and social classes. It was in that time period that floriography, also known as the language of flowers, became commonplace in their culture. Floriography was used in England to convey certain meanings, typically to convey romantic interest, but depending on the …show more content…
Setting the scene/tone of the entire novel using flowers- Oscar Wilde sprinkled floral imagery and symbolism cleverly throughout the novel. One very noticeable and significant use of floral imagery would be in the opening chapter. The very first sentence of the novel is lush and filled with sensory imagery. “The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn” (Wilde 3). Wilde focused on the flowers even in the first sentence to depict the dream-like state of the novel. This enhances the idea that Gray will indulge in his senses as sensory imagery hits the reader immediately. Flowers were more often then not, symbolic of a deeper meaning, and their use cannot be disregarded. Though flowers are usually innocent, they can be harmful in many ways. Even the way the sentence is structured is flowery. Before every piece of floral imagery, Wilde uses the phrase “of the”. This helps with the rhythm of the sentence by increasing the length of each phrase. Also, there is an excess of flowers and scents in the sentence portraying decadence. Because this is Basil’s studio, the reader can infer that Basil does not indulge too often or too much in his senses, whereas Gray

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