The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 7
The three men arrive at the theatre and take their seats; the house is packed with the lower classes, and Dorian says that Sibyl is such a genius that "She spiritualizes them, and one feels that they are of the same flesh and blood as one's self." Chapter 7, pg. 92 Lord Henry laughs at this, but Basil says he understands. "This marriage is quite right. I did not think so at first, but I admit it now. The gods made Sibyl Vane for you. Without her you are incomplete." Chapter 7, pg. 92 The play starts, and when Sibyl comes out onstage, the others admit how beautiful she is. When she starts to speak, however, she is terrible; her voice is pretty, but she gives no indication of any emotion and she is altogether uninteresting to watch. After the second act, Basil and Lord Henry tell Dorian that they must leave, because the play is so bad. Dorian agrees that she is awful, but Basil tells him not to insult her; his love is more important than her talent. Lord Henry tells him, "It is not good for one's morals to see bad acting. Besides, I don't suppose you will want your wife to act. So what does it matter if she plays Juliet like a wooden doll? She is very lovely, and if she knows as little about life as she does about acting, she will be a delightful experience." Chapter 7, pg. 95
Dorian insists that he must be alone, and the other two leave. After the play, Dorian goes to Sibyl backstage. She is pleased with herself, because she has realized that now that she is truly in love, she has no need of pretending to be in love onstage, and cannot even try to make it real. He is devastated, and tells her that it is over. "I loved you because you were marvelous, because you had genius ad intellect, because you realised the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid." Chapter 7, pg. 98 She begs him to reconsider, to stay with her, and promises to try to act again, but he leaves her and goes out into the night, wandering around for a long time.
He returns home at dawn, and glances at the portrait; in the dim light, it seems to have changed. He opens the blinds to get a closer look: "The quivering, ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing." Chapter 7, pg. 102
He thinks about why this could be, and remembers that day at Basil's studio when he wished that the portrait would age instead of him. Perhaps it has now become his conscience. He feels pity for the painting, for it will become ugly with every sin that he commits.
He resolves not to sin: he will go back to Sibyl, ask her forgiveness, and have a wonderful moral life with her. He draws a screen over the portrait and makes himself think about her in a loving way again.