“At the Marble Arch they hailed an omnibus, which left them close to their shabby home in the Euston Road” (Wilde, Chapter 5).
John Nash built the Marble Arch in 1828 as the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. After the palace was extended in 1851, the entirety of the Arch was moved to its current place as an entrance to Hyde Park. The design of the arch was based after the Arch of Constantine in Rome, built for the emperor Constantine, as well as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, to commemorate Napoleon. Both of these arches were constructed as ways to commemorate the military accomplishments of these emperors, and as Jim and Sibyl are walking under the Marble Arch in London to go home, he is thinking about killing Dorian Gray. Sibyl is something that Jim feels he has to wage a war over to protect.
All three of these arches were built for royalty. Historically, only members of the royal family can pass through the Marble Arch in ceremonial procession, but Jim and Sibyl leave from here to return to their “shabby home” on Euston Road (Wilde).
This reflects several themes present in Dorian Gray. The theme of the royal, the beautiful, the private, being apart of the common, the ugly, the public. Several times throughout the novel these two separate spheres overlap, and I think Jim and Sibyl’s moment at the arch is no exception. The public and private spheres are two things that highly contrast each other, and there are examples of other extreme contrasts in this scene as well. The Arch was built for royalty, but was places in a public park. Jim and Sibyl pass through a monument meant solely for the royal family, but they are a poor family living in a shabby home. They hail an omnibus; public transportation. They are also non-wealthy people walking in a park surrounded by the wealthy, contrasting with the crowd around them.
“Charles Booth Online Archive.” Charles Booth Online Archive. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
“Marble Arch by John Nash (1752-1835).” The Victorian Web. Ed. Jacqueline Banerjee. Brown University, 21 August 2006. Web. 16 December 2015.
Wikisource contributors. “The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891).” Wikisource . Wikisource , 30 Sep. 2015. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.