Essay about Sybil Vane's Symbolic Role in "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

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Pages: 4

Sibyl Vane’s Symbolic Role In “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”, By Oscar Wilde

Sibyl Vane plays a symbolic role in The Picture of Dorian Gray; moreover, she plays a symbolic role in Dorian Gray’s life. This essay will explore how Sybil’s character initially influences Dorian in a positive way, giving him the motive to turn away from decadence but subsequently brings about his downfall. Recurring themes will be discussed such as the aesthetic and references will be given to show examples of Sybil’s symbolic role in his life. A summary will follow, giving a brief synopsis concluding the essays arguments. Wilde describes the younger Dorian Gray as a stunningly handsome young man, pure inside, untouched by corrupt influences and unaware
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74) He is so self-absorbed he compares the finality of her death to a play ‘to be like simply a wonderful ending to a wonderful play’ (p.84). Sybil represents the aesthetic within the novel. Working in the arts, she appeals to Dorian, ‘she has not merely art, consummate art-instinct, in her, but she has personality also.’ (p. 50) Sybil’s beauty and innocence reflect Dorian’s original character before his downfall. She is unspoilt; Dorian’s outer image remains unspoilt but the portrait reflects his true characteristics. Sybil represents the aesthetic and reminds Dorian of himself, pre-portrait and she represents the characteristics he desires to possess. Sybil brings Dorian to the realisation that despite his bad behaviour towards her, his wish to remain young and beautiful has come true. Sybil’s fall from grace as an actress provokes Dorian to behave in a cruel and heartless manner which culminates in the portrait displaying the expression of his age and moreover his cruel character. The picture takes on a nasty sneer with ‘lines of cruelty around the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing’. ( p. 77) This is the first time Dorian realises that his wish has come true as a direct result of his appalling behaviour towards Sybil. To summarize, Sybil Vane’s character is