The Marble Arch, Final Project


The Marble Arch is a profound London landmark  designed by John Nash in 1827. It was originally designed to be the entrance to the cour d’honneur of Buckingham Palace. The arch was relocated however in 1851 by Thomas Cubitt to the North East corner of Hyde Park at Cumberland Gate.  The design of the arch was inspired by the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris. (The fact that the design was inspired by other countries’ works,  reminds me of Dorian Grey’s fascination with beauty and his collection of beautiful items, all from other parts of the world, like the design of the Arch.) This regal arch marked one of six entrances into Hyde Park, a Park where many nobility and important people of the Victorian Era went for downtime. Our beauty obsessed characters, Dorian and Henry, both enjoyed the Park as a place to watch beauty alive in front of them, and the arch marked the entrance and exit of the place they adored.

The Marble Arch then


The Marble Arch today

We see the Marble Arch for the first time in the novel in Chapter 5. Sybil and James Vane had just gone to Hyde Park for a walk. (Both had had to change to be presentable enough to be in the park.) They finished their walk and by the Marble Arch “they hailed an omnibus” to take them back to their “shabby home” 2 miles away on Euston Road. Here the arch can be seen as a symbol of change. As one enters the Park through the Arch they are in a beautiful world, full of beautiful people and the elite. As one exits the Park through the Arch they are back to the real London where they must go back to their own homes (possibly one that is too “shabby” to be near the Park itself.

The Marble Arch is mentioned in chapter 19 by Lord Henry when he is talking to Dorian. Henry had been walking through Hyde Park on a Sunday and noticed by the Marble Arch “a little crowd of shabby-looking people listening to some vulgar street-preacher.” As seen earlier in the novel, seeing shabby people in the park was very unlikely, so this would strike Lord Henry. He hears the preacher say “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Henry is asking Dorian to answer the question at first he then goes on to say how it “struck him”. He heard the question and thought it to be dramatic. He says that “London is very rich in curious effects of that kind” Henry paints us a picture of the preacher in a rain coat surrounded by “sickly white faces.” The dramatic phrase is thrown into the air as the beautiful arch looms over them.

marble arch

If we saw this scene through the eyes of Henry, we would see lower class Londoners huddled around a shrill preacher against the beautiful arch inspired by foreign pieces of beauty. We would hear the question of the preacher, almost in shock that such a question could come out of someone not as beautiful as the question itself. Henry is tempted to tell the preacher that “art had a soul but that man had not.” This line is crucial in the novel being an absolute allusion to Dorian’s painting that now has the soul of Dorian, taking on all of the pain and suffering that he has gone through.

When Henry asks Dorian this question that he heard about the Marble Arch, we see Dorian become suspicious that Lord Henry knows something about Dorian and the painting. This arch can represent a turning point in the relationship between Henry and Dorian at this point of the novel.














Selby Royal, Nottinghamshire – Dorian’s Country Home

Daniela Velez

Prof. Swafford

ENG 493-02

Final Project, Location: Selby Royal

“Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don’t know what is said about you.”

-Basil Hallward to Dorian Gray in Chapter XI, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham Castle 1900's
This is not Selby Royal (which is fictional) but Nottingham Castle in Nottinghamshire in the 1900s.


Nottinghamshire – being in the country, not in the city- is excluded from the Charles Booth Online Archive. There is not even a mention of Nottinghamshire in the index of subjects, places, people, and institutions mentioned in the survey. This mirrors the location’s importance in the story. While away in the countryside, the wealthy and the privileged elite are physically far away from the public’s scrutiny but they cannot completely escape it.

Nottinghamshire is far out of the area that Victorian Google Maps covers, but it is helpful to see how far away Nottinghamshire is from London.
Nottinghamshire is far out of the area that Victorian Google Maps covers, but it is helpful to see how far away Nottinghamshire is from London.

Although Basil hears rumors of Dorian’s “country-house and the life that is led there,” there is no evidence of the events that occur, besides Dorian’s somewhat tarnished reputation, which he cares little for. Selby Royal is foreshadowed by Basil’s interrogation of Dorian in the chapter preceding his violent murder and the convenient accidental death that takes place at Selby Royal after it. Before readers see or experience Dorian’s country home, it already has a negative connotation. When James Vane is killed this only solidifies Selby Royal as a location where Dorian lives with little regard to the consequences of his actions.

A week later Dorian Gray was sitting in the conservatory at Selby Royal, talking to the pretty Duchess of Monmouth, who with her husband, a jaded-looking man of sixty, was amongst his guests.

-Chapter XVII, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Accessed through the British History Online Archive, Robert Thoroton’s History of Nottinghamshire documents the parishes and churches in the area. Published in 1796, the source can be considered far removed from the time period in which The Picture of Dorian Gray takes place, but it is still useful in understanding the history the countryside would have been associated with in the minds of Victorian readers. A

majority of the images archived online feature in Thorton’s volumes are images of the numerous churches in Nottinghamshire. As we know from our study of the Victorian Era, religion and piety were of the utmost importance in society, but the images of these churches were captured prior to this time period which began in the early 1800s. As modern readers we can speculate whether or not the religious history of Nottinghamshire had some influence on Wilde’s decision to place Dorian’s fictional country manor there.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.10.03 PMA search of the Proceedings of the Old Bailey turns up only one crime that took place in Nottinghamshire, the theft of a horse. This may remind readers of Dorian Gray riding off on his mare to the stables to see the body of James Vane. Nottinghamshire does come up in other cases a total of twenty nine times but the area is usually mentioned in a positive light. For example, one ordinary’s testimony states “That he was born of good Parents, at Leeks in Nottinghamshire.” Therefore, we can conclude that Nottinghamshire would have been associated with a very peaceful and crime free, almost utopian, country parish. I would compare this to the way many residents of New York City view the Hudson Valley area. By setting up this country home as a topic of gossip and controversy, Wilde is undermining his Victorian audience’s perspective of the area. This gives the impression that danger, crime, and sin are not isolated to a location like the East End. In Wilde’s novel, Selby Royal is both the grand estate associated with the wealthy upper classes and a mansion of improprieties and sins that are implied and spoken about, but never directly addressed.

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. 01 Dec. 2015.

“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Results: Nottinghamshire. Old Bailey Online, n.d. Web. 01 Dec.2015.

Robert Thoroton, ‘Plate 3: Views of several churches’, in Thoroton’s History of Nottinghamshire: Volume 1, Republished With Large Additions By John Throsby, ed. John Throsby (Nottingham,       1790), p. 3 [accessed 1 December  2015].

Wilde, Oscar, and Camille Cauti. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics,  2004. Print.

Grosvenor Square in A Picture of Dorian Gray

Daniela Velez

Prof. Swafford

ENG 493-02

Final Project, Location: Grosvenor Square in A Picture of Dorian Gray

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.01.04 AMGrosvenor Square is the home Dorian Gray while he is going about being a bad boy all around the city of London. He also has a home out in the country, Selby Royal. Grosvenor Square is a very upper class area that is completely upper class/wealthy. The outlying area is also upper middle class/well-to-do.Any trace of a lower class area is barely visible and far away.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.05.30 AMAccording to a source I found on the British History’s website, Grosvenor Square was built between 1725 and 1731. It was one of the largest upper class squares in the West end and went through many architectural changes over the next two centuries (which would bring us into the time period of Dorian Gray). It is important to note that, “The high social status of the square was nevertheless one of the constants of the estate” (Sheppard). Therefore, it would make sense why Wilde chose this setting to be the center of Dorian’s life in the city.

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The debauchery and hedonistic lifestyle Gray partakes in stands in stark contrast to what one would expect of a resident of Grosvenor Square but it also adds to his dandy/aesthetic image he maintains despite his tarnished reputation. As stated in the excerpt above, the aesthetic movement was almost embodied by Grosvenor Square. Many of the homes were testaments to excess for the sake of excess.


Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.21.02 AMA search of the Old Bailey shows a history of robberies and some crimes around and very few in Grosvenor Square but the map that has these images only go up to 1834. A more narrowed search of the years 1875 to 1913 (the time period we are interested in for our purposes relating to the text since they come before and after the events taking place fictionally) resulted in hits that distinguish Grosvenor Square as defendant’s homes, not the actual place of crimes. There are nine robberies and one case of fraud that actually took place in Grosvenor Square during 1875-1913.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.14.38 PMThis makes the murder Gray commits in Grosvenor Square in Chapter Thirteen and the covering up of the crime in Chapter Fourteen, all the more shocking and controversial. It would make Victorian readers question the picture perfect upper class dandy and wonder what evils may lurk in the minds of the upper classes in general. A great moment takes place in Chapter Twelve with the victim and Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray says, “In this fog, my dear Basil? Why, I can’t even recognize Grosvenor Square.” This moment emphasizes the importance of locations and reminds readers to pay attention to what a location implies and how those implications can be undermined.


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. 17 Nov. 2015.

‘Grosvenor Square: Introduction’, in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1980), pp. 112-117 [accessed 13 November 2015].

‘Plate 28: Grosvenor Square’, in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1980), [accessed 16 November 2015].

“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Results. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Victorian Google Maps Engine.” Google Maps Engine: Map View. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.