0

I'm reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and found the phrase "as it seemed to him at times" in the context below, difficult to understand. I don't understand what it seemed like to him, in this scene. I'd appreciate it if you would answer my question.

A feeling of pain crept over him as he thought of the desecration that was in store for the fair face on the canvas. Once, in boyish mockery of Narcissus, he had kissed, or feigned to kiss, those painted lips that now smiled so cruelly at him. Morning after morning he had sat before the portrait wondering at its beauty, almost enamoured of it, as it seemed to him at times.

(The text is quoted from chapter 8 of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde)

4
  • 1
    Every morning he had sat admiring the portrait, and sometimes it had seemed as though he was actually in love with (enamoured of) it. Nov 18 '21 at 14:15
  • Thank you for your reply. You mean the "it" in the phrase doesn't mean the portrait, but the vague situation in the scene?
    – Ampan
    Nov 18 '21 at 14:44
  • 3
    It is a 'dummy pronoun', as in 'it is raining'. Dorian could have said to himself "It seems to me I'm almost in love with my portrait." Nov 18 '21 at 15:00
  • @KateBunting: I copied your text into an answer (with slight changes). Change it some more if you don't like what I did, but I can't see the point in waiting for someone else to provide a "better" answer here. Nov 18 '21 at 17:25
1

From @KateBunting's comments...

Every morning he had sat admiring the portrait, and sometimes it (the general situation) had seemed as though he was actually in love with (enamoured of) it (the portrait). The first it is a 'dummy pronoun', as in 'it is raining'.

Dorian could have said to himself "It seems to me I'm almost in love with my portrait."

3
  • Thank you! You helped me a lot. And I want to ask one more question about this dummy pronoun. In this text, Can native English speakers immediately tell whether the first it(dummy pronoun) is a dummy pronoun or not?
    – Ampan
    Nov 19 '21 at 0:27
  • 2
    Many native speakers wouldn't be familiar with the expression 'dummy pronoun', but phrases such as It's cold, it's raining, it seems to me are very common and would not make anyone wonder "What's this it?" Nov 19 '21 at 9:01
  • 1
    @Ampan: I find it odd that when we want to give an example dummy pronoun usage, it's nearly always gonna be some sentence where it wouldn't be unreasonable to say "it" there refers to "the weather". I realise my preceding sentence is a bit more complicated than "It's cold", but I'm guessing the way it uses "it" is way more common than all the different utterances combined, that British English speakers sterotypically use to talk about the weather! (One of our great "national pastimes" :) Nov 19 '21 at 16:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .