Queer Interpretations and Identifications of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

  • Tristan Smith

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Though fin de siècle texts were some of the first to be examined through a queer lens in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s seminal book Between Men, the almost four decades since have not exhausted the conversation surrounding them. As media and literary representations of marginalised groups remain a subject of conversation and these late Victorian texts continue to enjoy cultural ubiquity, this warrants a discussion of not returning to the fin de siècle, but of reading it in our contemporary contexts. In this thesis, I will therefore examine the ways in which The Picture of Dorian Gray, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Dracula can be read as queer texts by LGBTQ+ readers in the twenty-first century. By applying reader response and presentist theories to these readings and the justifications behind them, I examine subtextual and contextual elements of the three texts. This includes how relationships between men and the Gothic ideas of transformation and the Other within the text and associations in the readers’ minds lead to these queer readings. I propose that queer reading is an umbrella term which can be divided into two distinct but coexisting categories: interpretation and identification. To demonstrate this, I will provide examples of each type of reading from each of the texts, including existing analysis around homosexual and bisexual readings as well as further analyses and some investigation into transgender readings. Through this, I will show not only that the way queer readings are discussed can be more specific, but that there are still underexplored elements when it comes to queer readings of these texts.
Date of Award3 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMerrick Burrow (Main Supervisor) & David Rudrum (Co-Supervisor)

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