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SPOILER: This is part of my Currently Reading series, where I write my thoughts on books while reading them. These posts contain spoilers for the chapters mentioned in the title, so continue reading at your own discretion.

I have to say, the character of Sibyl is quite well written, at least in the context of the book. That is to say, she does seem to be another reflection of Wilde’s persona. She is eloquent, and her ideas on life and art compliment those of the other characters nicely.

When Dorian, Henry, and Basil go to see her play Juliet, she delivers the worst performance imaginable. His friends leave mid-play, but Dorian endures the painful performance, which he attributes to sickness, and goes to see her backstage. There, Sibyl delivers a great monologue about her performance. Before she went on stage, she was certain that her love for Dorian would fuel her talent and she would give the performance of a lifetime. But after she saw ow bad she was, she says that after feeling real love, she cannot possible portray a false one.

I might mimic a passion that I do not feel, but I cannot mimic one that burns me like fire. – Sibyl Vane

Dorian falls out of love with her. which leads to her suicide.

After the show, he goes home and notices that the painting has changed. He is taken aback, cannot believe it, and starts pondering its meaning. He goes to sleep, and when he wakes up, he receives a letter from Henry, which he disregards. He looks again at the painting, and is reassured that it has in fact, changed. This makes him want to become a righteous man, so he writes a letter of apology to Sibyl, determined to marry her. This letter and his determination to commit to a sinless life is cathartic to him, but at that point, Henry comes by. The letter he sent Dorian that morning was to tell him that Sibyl was dead. Dorian is quite shocked and devastated, but Henry soon makes him get over it by influencing him with his view: Sibyl’s death was poetic, tragic, aesthetically and morally beautiful.

When he finds out, Basil is shocked at the way Dorian has changed, and knows he has lost his friend. Dorian contemplates the painting, and this is the interesting part. He see that the painting will not only age for him, just as he wished, but will also endure the scars of his sins, serving as a moral mirror.

Sibyl’s death represents Dorian’s loss of innocence, at the hands of Lord Henry’s orations, the first step into a spiralling path of sin. He has lost the boyish attitude he was described of having by Basil, and has been corrupted by Henry’s philosophies into a risky and sinful, lusty life. He hides the painting in the most remote part of his house, and locks the door, ashamed that anyone might see his true self. Basil attempts to see it, and even exhibit it in Paris, but Dorian convinces him not to, and even discovers the secret of the painting: Basil put his ‘soul’, and along with it, I would say, his love for Dorian in the painting.

Henry gives Dorian a book which fascinates him, about a Frenchman who has some similarities with Dorian. The eleventh chapter breaks the narrative, and speeds it up. It tells of Dorian’s life through the coming years, and how his interests travel between different forms of art; how he becomes a collector, travels and lives sinful adventures; how he remains fascinated by the book, and is obsessed with the fear that someone might see the painting while he is away.

This last chapter does give new life to the book, and Wilde’s voice is more clearly heard. The mysogynistic aspect of the characters is quite visible in quotes mainly from Lord Henry, as well as the romantic undertones, particularly Basil’s affection for Dorian.

I look forward to seeing how the story ends, but I think it must end with Sibyl’s brother at least attempting, if not succeeding, to kill Dorian.