The Bristol (Final Project)

We see the Bristol very briefly in The Picture of Dorian Gray , but it’s purpose is to serve the transformation of Dorian into the easily manipulated young man that he is. In Chapter 6 of Oscar Wilde’s novel, the evening at the high-end hotel Bristol where Dorian, Lord Henry, and Basil talk about the marriage proposal between Dorian and Sybil: “Hallward was shown into a little private room at the Bristol where dinner had been laid for three” (Wilde). The motif exposed within this chapter surrounding beauty and sensibility that enamors Dorian. The dichotomy of the East versus the West in The Picture of Dorian Gray exposes the sinister hidden within the glamour of the posh and rich aesthetic of the West side of London in characters like Lord Henry, while later on in the novel, the East exposes the sinister side entering through Dorian and festering in the portrait. The manipulation from Lord Henry and the appeal of aestheticism begins Dorian’s journey into the evils of ugliness and the disgust of denying art.

From the map acquired from the Booth Poverty archive, the Brisol is located within Burlington Gardens. The red below exposes the upper middle class living that goes on in this area along with a select few of wealthy citizens of London in the area. This high class upbringing brings to life the reality in which Wilde’s characters experienced and gives a realistic appeal to his novel. The Bristol becomes a societal setting that encroaches and exposes the distaste and ugliness of the lower class.

burlington gardens

Within the sixth chapter, Basil expresses his contempt for the lower class: “‘I hope the girl is good, Harry. I don’t want to see Dorian tied to some vile creature, who might degrade his nature and ruin his intellect'” (Wilde). By painting Sybil as a “vile creature,” the reader is left to understand the distancing of social class. The upper class is considered human and much more, while the lower class is depicted as monstrous. This further exploits the way in which Dorian’s portrait and actions becomes horrendous and vile like that of a monster. The exact opposite is Sybil’s character. She is quite beautiful, naive, and infatuated with Dorian. Basil’s quote should be pointed at Dorian instead of poor Sybil Vane. While Sybil does not encompass the depiction that Basil paints of her, Dorian does quite literally through the portrait.

Even though the West side of London is filled with the rich patrons of the city, it is not devoid of crime. The Old Bailey claims to have documented various accounts of robbery and grand larceny within the area of Burlington Gardens. The act of evil deeds pour out across the area, as how Dorian’s evil acts of murder and manipulation proceed throughout the novel.


Works Cited:

“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive). N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)/Chapter 6.” – Wikisource, the Free Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Browse. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015

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