VaneThe Comparison of Dorian Gray to
Lord Henry and Sibyl Vane
Oscar Wilde’s 19th century The Picture of Dorian Gray portrays a young, naive man, Dorian Gray, who begins to change because of Lord Henry Wotton’s negative influence on him; likewise, Dorian influences Sibyl Vane as a result of Henry’s influence on him. Because of Henry’s influence, Dorian’s attitude towards women and his respect for women change for the worse. Because of Dorian’s influence on Sibyl, she commits suicide.
Wilde first portrays Dorian as a sweet, sensitive man whom everyone admires. He was described as a “wonderful young man.” He was not concerned with money or power. One day Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton through a mutual friend, Basil Hallward. This is the beginning of the end for Dorian because Lord Henry’s influence pollutes his mind. Although Lord Henry states that, “all influence is immoral,” he nonetheless changes Dorian. Lord Henry gives Dorian a book about a man who seeks beauty in evil pleasures. Dorian becomes this man. Lord Henry tells Dorian, “Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” Lord Henry means that women are beautiful, but stupid and men are smart but have no morals. Lord Henry’s theory corrupts Dorian’s view of women. As Dorian acts on the beliefs of Lord Henry, the portraits beauty becomes corrupted. Dorian meets a young, naive girl, Sibyl Vane, who is an actress in a small theatre. Dorian immediately falls in love with her. After a play one night, Dorian gets angry with Sibyl because she does not want to be an actress anymore. “There’s more to life than just one passion,” says Sibyl. Now that she has met Dorian, she says she will never be a good actress again. Dorian says, “You have killed my love,” and “You are shallow and stupid.” Dorian’s influence on Sibyl causes her to be shallow and vain like him. She wants to marry Dorian for his looks and money. Dorian wants to marry her for her beauty and acting. Both Dorian and Sibyl used each other to get what they want. Dorian’s words affect Sibyl so much that she commits suicide. Dorian is also affected by his words. When he goes home that night, he notices “a touch of cruelty in the mouth,” of his portrait. Dorian’s portrait has begun to reflect his soul.
Lord Henry changes Dorian with the beliefs that morals have no rightful place in life. We know that Lord Henry’s beliefs are unjust because Dorian’s picture is getting more gruesome, not more attractive. Dorian changes Sibyl by making her think that without him she is nothing. The influences on Dorian and from Dorian change him forever. These influences make him a cold-hearted, selfish man who would do anything for what he wants.