Sunday, August 23, 2009

Geology Through Literature - Dorian Gray

Next up in the Geology Through Literature section is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. You can check out a downloadable packet at the site with directions, answers, and lessons learned. See just the directions and questions below.

Using The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

While seeming to offer no geological significance, several works can still be used to describe the beauty available in the natural world. One of those works is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde where in one portion of the book the title character becomes obsessed with gems and minerals. This leads to a rather lengthy discussion and listing of several varieties of gems, minerals, precious metals, and a host of other things (some of which I still am not sure what are).

Project Description

Read Chapter 11 (around the middle of the chapter, begins “On one occasion he took up the study of jewels” of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. There are approximately 35 different varieties of gems, minerals, and precious metals mentioned in the text. The minerals mentioned in the text are listed out on the provided sheet.

(A website that might be of some use is:, but I recommend using Google and Yahoo! as a back-up as well, since that website does not always give the correct answers)

1. Several of the gems and minerals have multiple colors listed in the text. Write down the colors mentioned on the chart under the Color Variations column.

2. Several of the gems and minerals also list special properties in the text. Write down the special properties on the chart under the Special Properties column.

3. Gem names are often specific colored varieties of certain minerals (i.e. purple quartz is called amethyst). List what the mineral name is for the open boxes on the chart under the Alias column. (The red boxes I am unable to determine so I will not expect anyone else to determine them either. See Bonus Question 1.)

4. There are 4 different varieties of Quartz (or chalcedony, which is a variety of quartz) mentioned. What are those gems mentioned?





5. According to Mohs Hardness Scale, which of the minerals/gems mentioned are on the scale? (Fill in the blanks below, multiple blanks means multiple answers)
1 – Talc
2 – ___________
3 – Calcite
4 – Fluorite
5 – Apatite
6 – ____________; ____________
7 – ____________; ____________; ____________; ____________;
8 – ____________;
9 – ____________; ____________;
10 – ____________;

6. Looking at all the duplicates in the Alias column (i.e. garnet, quartz, etc.) what is the principle difference, other than color, between the different varieties of the same mineral?

7. What is the difference between Balas Rubies and regular Rubies?

8. Amethyst is mentioned that it “drove away the fumes of wine”. What did the ancient Greeks do with amethyst that helped corroborate this claim?

9. Which of the three gems mentioned are not inorganically formed but biologically produced?



Bonus (i.e harder than normal)
1. Fill in the dark red boxes for Aliases of the 3 unknown gems (aspilate, hydropicus, and meloceus) And if you do know what these are let me know as well.

2. What is the difference between Turquoise and Turquoise de la vieille roche?

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