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A Stylistic Analysis of the Picture of Dorian Gray

Author JiangXiaoZuo
Tutor WenKeXue
School Guangxi University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords stylistics language style The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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Wilde is a writer and dramatist of controversy in the late 19th century for his thoughts in the eyes of philistines seem rebel, radical and even ridiculous. He spares no pain to extol his artistic ideal "art for art’s sake" in his works and meanwhile practices it in the real life which gains him the name of "aesthete dandy", trying to build an Utopia of beauty high beyond the reality of which he thinks scorn.Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, with some parallels with his own life, is often regarded as a good material for the research on the author’s personality and life. But what is more important is that it is the typical presentation of his whole aesthetics, and thus it was not quite acceptable to the late 19th century critics who habitually judged a literary work by the standard of "sincerity". When the first version of the novel was published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890, it received a series of attacks from reviewers for its immorality. Now more and more researchers have realized the book’s value as a brilliant example of Wilde’s power as a storyteller and of his flamboyant wit and aestheticism. However, in the field of Wilde research, the literature that specifically deals with The Picture of Dorian Gray is little, and the comments are scattered in various collections and literature that take Wilde’s works as a whole to be their research point which is closer to literary criticism but not linguistic features analysis.This thesis intends to make an analysis and evaluation on The Picture of Dorian Gray from the perspective of literary stylistics. Literary stylistics is a discipline mediating between literary criticism and linguistics of different levels and in various forms. Its main concern is how the choices of certain linguistic form can express and reinforce the thematic and artistic value of literature. This paper takes literary stylistics as the theoretical framework for that this perspective can provide fresh insights into the thematic and aesthetic function or value of linguistic forms in Wilde’s novel, explaining the relationship between the surface linguistic form and its deep thematic significance.The thesis will employ the research pattern given in Style in Fiction by Leech and Short to analyze the thematic and aesthetic function achieved through Wilde’s beautiful language in The Picture of Dorian Gray. That is to say, it will not just stay on the linguistic level, but will reach a deeper level in order to answer the questions below: Why does the author choose such a way to write? What kind of aesthetic function does the style achieve? Does it answer for the thematic significance of the text? These questions will be answered by the analysis of examples in different categories such as lexical categories, grammatical categories, figure of speech, context and cohesion.This case study, using a more scientific method of literary stylistics to analyze the text, provides evidences to understand the relationship between the surface linguistic structure and the deep thematic and artistic significance, which leads to a more just and objective evaluation on the art of the work.

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