The room:

Associations: childhood, purity, innocence.

Contrasts: the portrait, corruption/degradation, old age.

→ Placing the picture in this room amounts to a profanation.

However there are bridges between these two poles:

It is not just any room, it was built especially for Dorian. Moreover, it was built to hide him away. The room has always been intended to be a shrine for shame of Dorian/Dorianís shame.

The place already has a fantastic/Gothic aspect: see the description in paragraph 1.

The room is peopled with images:

- It suggests to Dorian an image of his own childhood.

- It was built by the late Lord Kelso for Dorian who was in his eyes an image of his daughter (Dís mother).

- There are images in it (the tapestry).

! Note the metaphor used to refer to the cloth that Dorian has spread over his picture: pall (a cloth spread over a coffin) and its colour: purple (symbolical of: 1. royalty, 2. the dress of cardinals, 3. mourning, 4. penance and expiation in Roman Catholic liturgy).

→ The picture desecrates the room as much as the room consecrates the picture. Similarly, by hiding the picture away, D both tries to get rid of it and protects it as something sacred: in this attitude there is both abasement and idolatry. This ambivalence is deeply pagan but that does not mean it is not religious, quite the reverse.

Maybe Dorian unconsciously wants to punish himself by defiling the image of what is good in him.


On the other hand, putting the picture under lock endows Dorian with irresponsibility (2nd paragraph).

- See how Dorian oscillates between irresponsibility and shame. They can be seen either as opposite poles or as two sides of the same coin since both are linked to the portrait.

- See how powerful Dís shame is: he seems ready to forcibly prevent the frame-maker from seeing the portrait. This testifies to his ambivalent relationship to it. He is at once barring access to it and protecting it.

- Dorian places morals on the same plane as physical beauty. This is the reason for his eventually ďdecidingĒ that he/his portrait is doomed and the picture must be locked away. In this respect, the picture is as much Lord Henryís work as Basilís, since it does not distinguish body from soul: it images LHís views, not Basilís.


Think of these lines from James Joyceís Ulysses:

I am the boy
That can enjoy


Dorianís shame is not just a question of guilt for positive acts. It is more deep-rooted / goes further back: it is of a religious / sacred / existential nature.

Vocabulary: profane = desecrate, profanation = desecration, consecrate, consecration, pagan = heathen [i:], paganism [ei]