The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of the most brilliant works as it touches upon really important issues: beauty, sin, love, art, virtue. There are numerous questions to address. One of the most interesting questions is concerned with love. Some may claim that his first and true love is Sibyl Vane. However, I argue that he does not love the poor girl. So, can Dorian’s feelings to Sibyl Vane be regarded as love to a woman? Is Sibyl Vane Dorian’s True Love?
When reading the first passages concerning the poor actress and Dorian’s fascination, it may really seem that the young man falls in love with the beautiful girl. Dorian assures his friend Lord Henry that he really loves Sibyl (Wilde 51). These words make the reader think of the great and pure love of the two young and beautiful creatures. However, it is soon clear that Dorian has no feelings to the girl. He is fascinated by her talent. He loves her inspiration and her devotion to art. The young man is fascinated by a dream, not a girl.
When the girl loses her ability to act, Dorian is disappointed. He is cruel and impatient. He confesses (to himself rather than to Sibyl) that he loved her because she had “genius and intellect”, because she “realised the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art” (Wilde 85). It turns out that the only pure love Dorian experiences is love to art, not to a woman.
Therefore, the answer to the question cannot be so definite. Obviously, Dorian does not love the girl. However, he does love Sibyl Vane who is a kind of symbol of greatness of art. Dorian loves the image he creates. He falls in love with his own Sibyl Vane. Thus, Dorian does love Sibyl Vane, but this woman has nothing to do with the material world. This is the symbol of beauty and greatness of art.
I think this is one of the central ideas of the book. In this way Wilde reveals his own views concerning art. Admittedly, Wilde was one of the greatest figures of the movement of aestheticism. The author worshiped art and beauty. This can be vividly seen in the book. Thus, the author reveals his idea that the beauty of a woman is something that passes soon. However, only art is immortal. Dorian is deprived of the ability to love a woman. He can only truly appreciate art and beauty (his own youth and beauty).
I believe art should reflect reality, not vice versa. However, Wilde as well as his creation (Dorian) lived in a somewhat distorted world. Thus, Dorian tries to create an ideal world to live in. He is not interested in real feelings and real happiness. He seeks for phantoms created by the world of art. These ideas corrupt the young man who becomes an evil creature incapable of love or any affection.
Dorian falls in love with a dream and, at the same time, he destroys the beautiful world around him. Did Dorian love Sibyl Vane? The answer is positive. However, this love has nothing to do with material world as Dorian creates his own Sibyl Vane and falls in love with his ideal in his ideal world of beauty and art.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray, New York: Penguin Classics, 2003. Print.