The Symbolic Significance of Sibyl Vane

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THE SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF SIBYL VANE
Sibyl Vane is a character of great importance in The Picture Of Dorian Gray. However, she is also a symbol. A symbol of the Dorian Gray of old, the way he was before succumbing to a mind numbing world of guilty pleasures and debauchery. Sibyl also represents the beginning of Dorian Grays’ descent into this dark world. A “love” interest of the young Dorian Gray, Sibyl represents what Dorian wished to be; young, pure, and innocent, and perhaps naïve of the world around her. Dorian first lays his eyes on Sibyl Vane when he enters an old, decrepit theatre and witnesses her prowess in the arts, especially in the art of acting. While Dorian claims to be in love with Sibyl, what he has truly fallen for is her acting prowess. (Wilde p. 55) Dorian soon meets the young Sibyl face to face and begins wooing her. (Wilde p. 57) Sibyl, being young and impressionable, falls for the charming young man and truly believes he loves her (Wilde p. 65) Dorian is so enthralled with the acting prowess of the young woman that he invites his companions to bear witness for themselves. Unfortunately, her performance is lacking tremendously. The acting talent Dorian had fallen in love with seemed to have disappeared entirely and without explanation. This coupled with the fact that his friends also bore witness to the “talents” of young Sibyl Vane, sends Dorian into a fit of rage. Without hesitation he storms into Sibyls dressing room and proceeds to end their relationship, showing no mercy. This crushes poor Sibyls heart. She tries to explain that she is now unable to feign love on the stage, now that she has truly fallen in love in reality, but to no avail, for as previously stated, Dorian had far more interest in the acting talents of Sibyl Vane than anything else. This heart wrenching chain of events will lead to the tragic suicide of this poor girl, overcome with loss. After learning of Sibyls suicide Dorian is initially wracked with guilt....
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