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An outline of their role in the CHARACTER PROFILE: The roles they adopt and the masks
they put on; what part are they playing?
novel and indication of how Sibyl Vane
their character changes/develops. · Actress- `She makes them as responsive as a violin', `It was simply
bad art', `Without your art you are nothing', `It was only in the
Sibyl is the working class actress who is a love interest theatre that I lived', `You are more to me than art can ever be'.
and has a short relationship with the protagonist Dorian "But don't waste your tears on Sibyl Vane. She was less real than
in the novel. they are'
She is a character heavily related with art and living through art
· Chapter 4- her character is introduced when Dorian through the way that she acts so well. The reason Dorian falls in love
talks to Lord Henry about her and she is described as with her is because of her ability to act so well. She describes her
something typical of a `first love'. Dorian shows real life as being the literal theatre as her life is completely around her
devotion to her here. profession at the theatre. She gives up this false life for her love
· Chapter 5- this is her family's key chapter and her with Dorian.
Mother and brother's characters are introduced. It
shows her true lower class status in the novel and · Representative for the working class- `Of course if this
shows her perspective of Dorian gentleman is wealthy', `Prince Charming rules life for us now', `with
an actress...that is a rather common place debut', `the Jew wanted
· Chapter 6- talked about by Basil, Henry and Dorian
to tell me her history, but it did not interest me', `it would be
(BHD). Basil talks about her being bad for Dorian, but
absurd for him to marry so much beneath him'.
then is happy. Dorian reveals their engagement to
She is represented the most as the working class figure who is
marry. treated badly by Dorian, showing the power of the upper classes over
· Chapter 7- Key chapter. Bad acting performance from the lower. From the way she is talked about by BHD she is clearly not
her. Is disregarded by the audience and BHD. Sibyl valued for. She is merely viewed for by her job as an actress which is
explains that she acts badly for the sake of Dorian. He something not highly paid for. Her family only has one chapter in to
harshly leaves her. Then after walking round over the show the dominance of the aristocrats over her. She commits suicide
night and discovering the change in the portrait he at the hands of Dorian which makes her seem like a tragic lower class
writes a letter of apology and love to her. girl desperate for a better chance at life. Meanwhile, Dorian visits
· Chapter 8- Henry reveals her suicide. She commits the opera after hearing of her suicide. (link to Marxism).
suicide from grief after Dorian leaves her. Dorian is
persuaded to have no thought or care for her by Henry. · Dorian's love interest- `Arms of Rosalind around me and kissed
· Chapter 9- Basil see's Dorian and is astounded by her Juliet on the mouth', `The man who could wrong her would be a
death and is confused by Dorian's lack of compassion. beast- a beast without a heart', `Sibyl Vane is sacred!', 'Sibyl is the
· Chapters 16-18- James Vane's attempted revenge on only thing I care about', `She knelt down and pressed his hands to
Dorian for Sibyl's death, however is killed by an her lips'
aristocratic hunting game Dorian falls in love with her as his `debut love', the fact that he
leaves her over simply her acting skills shows the lack of compassion
· Chapter 19- Dorian mentions Sibyl when he starts to
of Dorian. Sibyl is presented as melodramatic in love as she looks
repent and when he talks about Hetty
weak compared to the powerful Dorian.…read more

Slide 2

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Key quotes for this character:
Language analysis and context (if relevant)
These quotes show Sibyl's pure devotion to Dorian as she feels that her life has no
Key quote value without him. The way she contrasts `acting' and `reality', and `theatre' and
`lived' shows how she mixes reality with art through her acting. The theatre was her
"Before I knew you, acting was the only chance to prove herself, but she'd rather give that up for Dorian, however the
one reality of my life. It was only in theatre can also be interpreted as something that she has to work in, because it is the
the theatre that I lived" only thing she can have a job in, as her Mother worked there. Dorian and Sibyl's
worlds have swapped as he now wants `art' and she wants `reality'. As they don't mix,
their relationship doesn't work. Her realisation of true love makes her realise the
falseness of emotions on stage.
Language analysis and context (if relevant)
Key quote This quote shows how melodramatic Sibyl is presented in the novel as the quotes
`moan' and `flung' shows the exaggerated and theatrical movements. This is mainly
"A low moan broke from her, and she due to her importance of being an actress (see actress point on last sheet) and the
flung herself at his feet, and lay there fact that she's presented as desperate and weak compared to Dorian. The way she's
like a trampled flower" described as a `trampled flower' presents her as vulnerable, and contextually shows
how because she is female, and of a low class, she is metaphorically `crushed' by
Dorian as in Victorian London, women and the working class was treated gravely.
Language analysis and context (if relevant)
Key quote The way he describes Sibyl as `the girl' which shows how he feels she is irrelevant to
him and makes her seem worthless. He completely disregards any blame for her suicide
"Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was which the reader knows is wrong. She is presented as insignificant as the main
character degrades her to nothing in this quote.
the girl's fault not his" The word `Prince' and `rules' symbolises royalty which is used to show the power Sibyl
"Prince Charming rules our life now" feels Dorian has over her and her life. Contextually, to marry someone of a position of
Dorian's at that time, would be the only way to gain a better life, through position and
wealth. She feels that Dorian is this chance.…read more

Slide 3

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What do the critics say about this character?
· Marxism- from a Marxist perspective she is represented as the martyrs for justice for the working classes as tey
highlight the working class struggle for equality. Through Sibyl's death (and James') they represent the
determination for equality from the working classes. Dorian is presented as Sibyl's `manager' and when she no longer
has a use to him or benefits from her (after she no longer wants to act) he looses interest. Nothing changes as a
result of her death.
· Could link to Freud's analysis of the mind. He said it was broken down into the conscious and the unconscious mind.
In the unconscious (the id), things like our hopes, desires and memories are but they are often unknown to us. This
is where Sibyl links in as Sibyl is acclaimed critically as Dorian's `first cruel act' or `path to degradation'. Through
the novel Sibyl is infiltrated through Dorian unconsciously, for example in Chapter 19 where he mentions her when
talking of redemption, the way he leaves Hetty and calls it a `good act' because his actions with Sibyl hasn't left his
mind and the way Wilde brings back James Vane who frightens Dorian to remind him of the sin he committed with
Sibyl.
Wilde's intention in including this character: what purpose do they serve?
· Through showing Dorian's immorality: She is presented as a physical representation of Dorian's immorality as he
leaves her and then disregards her after her suicide. She is the first thing that causes the portrait to become
tainted with sin. She is shown as the first sin of many over Dorian's life, which shows her significance to the novel
as she is important in starting the `chain' of sins to the eventual destruction of the portrait.
· Through her being presented as unworthy: She can be interpreted as a `test' in Lord Henry's experiment as he
calls Dorian an `interesting study' when he talks to him after he announces he is in love with Sibyl. He watches him
develop and then persuades him to not care about her after her suicide.
· Through social class divide in the society: The working class heroine who dies tragically at the hands of the
aristocratic society. (see representative of the working class section)
· Through sexism: The tragic woman, the only woman who has a true part in the novel, but dies at the hands of a
tragic relationship with a dominating man.
· Through art: The actress who dedicates her life to performing in art but when she meets Dorian she feels she
wants reality over her acting career.
· Through showing Dorian's lack of compassion: She is Dorian's only true love through the novel, although other's are
mentioned he leaves them all, which shows how he is effected by his relationship with Sibyl. Her presence doesn't
leave the novel or Dorian's conscience as it is always engraved on the portrait, as James comes back for revenge for
her and Dorian still mentions her in Chapter 19.…read more

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