Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Alexandra Valint

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Martina Sciolino

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Eric Tribunella

Committee Member 3 Department



This study of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray argues that the novel participates in a Gothic subversion of the archetypal hero’s journey. The novel employs Gothic devices to supplant heroic narremes. As the novel progresses, both Dorian (as a type of hero-character) and the narrative repeatedly deny or subvert the normative idea of heroism later reified in Joseph Campbell’s archetypal theory. While Campbell’s hero attempts to secure and universalize a heterosocial story, Wilde’s hero is recuperated through a reconfiguring of normative failure as queer success. What is ostensibly a failure of the normative hero to achieve his quest is actually the queer Gothic hero’s interrogation of Victorian London and its conception of heroism along untenable gender norms.