Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bram Stoker's Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray: Part II

by Gregory Walton-Green

Mon Dieu! The much anticipated part two of Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray has finally arrived! See our heroine overreact to insignificant details, do nothing as her so called friend offends her in every way possible, and flail with her new-found ridiculous desires. Who is Dorian Gray? Why does Anastasia put up with Catherine? Does anybody know what her "inner goddess" is? Why is it all in the present tense? Does she have some kind of recording device writing down her internal monologue? And ultimately does any of this matter? Find out the answer to none of these questions in the following extract, but read it anyway.

Catherine and I make our approach for the theatre, my inner goddess pounding on my heart like some barbaric tribesperson on a drum made of human skin. My subconscious, using its oracular prescience to detect an imminent life-changing experience, just through those ornate, gold-plated double sandstone doors, makes me flush – by which I mean blush, or become flushed, as I find using correct grammar all the time in this internal monologue very draining on my stupidity, so I try to avoid it whenever possible.

As I enter the lobby, my insides melt with lustful anticipation like an erect ice sculpture in a steaming-hot room: Mon Dieu! I have never been in the theatre before – I wonder at what secret pleasures may lie hidden under the outer appearances of this magnificent, beautiful building. At this thought my inner goddess bridles in overwhelming ecstasy, nearly causing me to flush again.

I look at the two entrances for the seating: “Uncouth Uneducated Underclass” and “Society Sophisticates”. I instinctively start towards the former archway, knowing myself to be the result of a distasteful union of misplaced passion, having had my social inferiority impressed upon me since birth, leading to my passive acceptance of my proper place in life. Suddenly, some violent fiend seizes my shoulder. Mon Dieu! Is my chance at entering respectable cultured society to be ended before it has truly begun? I turn to face my assailant, my subconscious writing its last will and testament in utter panic. Mon Dieu! It is Catherine! I flush with embarrassment.

“Anastasia, what are you doing? How could you ever successfully chaperone me, or become an object of all-engrossing, lustful, passionate desire for a gentleman worthy of your social aspirations if you insist upon associating yourself with such undesirable, lowly born commoners? Come along Anastasia, we have no time to waste to find you a prosperous, prospective husband, your looks are only deteriorating over time, if anything!”

I flush, unable to contain the inner turmoil of my sheer self-hatred, which has led to my worsening mental state, causing me to form an inner dialogue to narrate my life, so devoid of meaning and… My inner goddess cuts me off, overwhelming me with sinful thoughts, glorying in them like a demented primate gleefully playing the bongos for tips.
I follow Catherine through the archway to our seats, my subconscious pointing out her behaviour towards others for me to note and imitate. As we follow society’s elite of decadence and elegance, we rapidly approach a member of the theatre staff, who is checking tickets for the performance of Bluebeard tonight. Mon Dieu! What if I am barred from entering the theatre? Is my humble background so obvious to others for them to question me? How could I ever be so foolish to think I could become respectable and accepted in high society?

Without warning, Catherine lunges deep into her Chatelaine handbag, and, gesturing towards me, addresses the theatre employee, before he even has time to ask for our tickets. His look is questing, yet somewhat vacant, as though he were doing something with effort but without true belief in his cause. Oh, the utter barbarity of him! Catherine still scrambles around, her hand languishing and luxuriating within her own  bag. Mon Dieu! What is Catherine about to do? What could she possibly be searching for in that bag? I watch her intently, about to confess to my deplorable parentage, anything to end this torment of anticipation, to avoid those searching eyes, demanding proof of one’s right to be at the theatre. After what seems like an eternity, Catherine removes from her bag our two tickets.

Catherine addresses the man, her voice filled with contempt, “Here you are sir, I believe that even someone of your uneducated background can tell that our tickets are entirely in order, may we proceed?” Catherine, without waiting for a reply, storms off, as though personally insulted by the man’s job. The man shouts after her “Third on the left ma’m, the jubilee box”.

The whole affair must have dragged on agonisingly for almost an entire minute.

As we enter our box, I am overcome with something approaching awe. I see the gilded surfaces gleaming in contrast to the deep sanguine reds, far more luxurious than anything I could have imagined from my limited experience in Society. I look up, and gape in sheer disbelief: the elaborate decorations extend to the ceiling! My subconscious contemplates my surrounding: Have we entered a shallow, materialistic heaven?
“Miss Vain, I presume?” A cold sweat breaks out along my spine, seeping into my flesh: that voice! My whole body heats up with lustful aching, as if my inner goddess had set paraffin wax alight over me. The voice is as hard as steel, with a mocking tone to it, but beneath the harsh, otherworldly, sensuous, bestial, civilised exterior, I detect a subtle hint of romanticism, paired with predatory sexuality. I feel my hand grow moist. Hoping to hide what I assume to be an involuntary, but nonetheless unladylike, reaction caused by my uncontrollable attraction to that bewitching, enchanting, magical voice, I finally cease from admiring the intricately embellished ceiling, looking down to realise that Dorian Gray, the talk of London, is kissing my hand.

Mon Dieu! I struggle to say something, anything to this inconceivably confident man, who so easily controls my emotions and actions, but, facing him, I am merely drawn deeper into his divine beauty, as if my inner goddess had tied a rope between us, and then dived into his unnervingly seductive wells of eyes.

“Anastasia!” Catherine’s unbearably chastising tone saves me from my plunge into the eternal darkness of those eyes, “I am so sorry, Mr Gray, Lord Henry, Mr Hallward, Lord Godalming, Anastasia is suffering from some sort of shock, she is unused to such close contact with the male sex, and indeed with social outings: she has had a very sheltered upbringing to preserve her from society’s corrupting influence, however hard you may find that to believe from her lack of any physical charms. Lord Godalming, would you grant me the pleasure of sitting beside you?”

“Certainly Miss Westenra, I am sure we will both gain much pleasure from the experience.” Lord Godalming and Catherine take their seats, along with Lord Henry and Basil Hallward, the mildly talented artist who is reputedly devoted to Mr Gray. I stand in total indecision as to what to do, as Mr Gray rises. My first instinct is to flee this scene, with its decadent air of perverse, repulsive hedonism, yet my inner goddess is pulling me toward this enigmatic man, nay angel, so eerily familiar, who has granted me the privilege of his touch. In the end, my misplaced loyalty towards Catherine forces me to stay: without any restraining force on her curiosity; who knows what unfortunate events might take place with her amongst such a group of men?

I allow Mr Gray to lead me to a seat, feeling helpless in the wake of his charms. He matches my contemplative silence with a cold stare that belies his unparalleled masculine beauty.

Without warning, Mr Gray broaches our pact of speechlessness: “Miss Vain, your friend Miss Westenra has offered us little insight into your character: is it true that you have been completely sheltered from corrupting influences your entire life?"
I falter, unsure of how to react. Fortunately, Catherine intervenes before I can embarrass myself further:
“Her mother is a common harlot, offering her services to any gutter scum with two farthings lurking in his infested garments, but her own virtue is fully intact. I assure you, she is entirely virtuous, she barely even realises the opposite sex exists, simple-minded as she is.”
In light of this, Dorian Gray addresses me “How intriguing… Miss Vain, we must become better acquainted... Where exactly do you reside?”
“With my mother; it is only a small, decrepit, worthless abode, opposite the Cheapside orphanage…”
“How peculiar, I know the area well: I often walk past the orphanage at night, it is conveniently placed between my house and the sanatorium. Are you sure we have not met before? Your visage impresses upon me some ancient recollection…”
“I have heard much about you, considering your considerable reputation, but I do not remember ever seeing you before today, although I too must admit I find you very familiar…”
“Oh Anastasia,” Catherine interjects “you must not bore the man with your wearisome imaginings! I do apologise, she is unused to company, poor reclusive girl that she is, I do wonder why I ever stand for her tiresome…”
“Be silent, Miss Westenra!” orders Gray imperiously, “I shall let you know whether I would like your opinion. Return to your seduction of Lord Godalming, I wish to speak to Anastasia alone!” Catherine’s customary sneer is replaced by indignation and fear. I fear Mr Gray also: his shocking outburst is unsuited to his attractiveness. I wonder whence this anger flows, and how his looks conceal this facet of his nature so well. My subconscious poses a rhetorical question: What terrible event occurred that caused him to become so callous towards others? I cannot even guess, my life experiences being limited as they are. The other members of our group finally react: Basil Hallward, sitting on Catherine’s other side, tries to console her, Lord Henry, Dorian’s self-styled mentor, merely smiles at Dorian’s assertiveness, a quality he presumably considers fitting in a young man, but Lord Godalming starts to rise, to challenge Dorian, I fear! Mon Dieu! Am I about to cause the death of two men I barely know? Before Lord Godalming has time to leave his seat, the lights go down and the curtains are drawn. The performance is about to start.

Join us next time in Bram Stoker's 50 Shades of Dorian Gray for more badly written Gothic Romance: Discover more about Dorian's past, Anastasia's past, Jacob's past, Dracula's past, the fictitious past that this story is set in. See Dorian become more morally repugnant, Catherine become even more obnoxious and Anastasia decline further in her mental health - now with more hallucinations!

Read, also, Billie Downer's article on the 'Fifty Shades' phenomenon.

1 comment:

  1. nice review i might read it now


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