Chapter 8 Notes from The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 8

Dorian's valet, Victor, wakes him up after one in the afternoon. He has some mail, including a letter from Lord Henry which he puts aside and does not read. He notices the portrait covered by a screen and remembers seeing the change in it in the early morning light; he wonders if he was imagining everything. He dreads sending the valet away, knowing he will feel compelled to look at the portrait, but does so. When he sees it, the cruelty in the face is as apparent as it was before; he thinks: "There were opiates for remorse, drugs that could lull the moral sense to sleep. But here was a visible symbol of the degradation of sin. Here was an ever-present sign of the ruin men brought upon their souls." Chapter 8, pg. 108

Topic Tracking: Conscience/Soul 3

He thinks for a long time, then writes Sibyl a long letter asking for forgiveness. When he finishes, he hears Lord Henry knocking on his door. He decides to let him in.

Lord Henry tells Dorian not to think about what has happened, that it was not his fault. Dorian quite agrees, and tells Lord Henry that he plans to be good from now on: "I know what conscience is, to begin with. It is not what you told me it was. It is the divinest thing in us. Don't sneer at it, Harry, any more--at least not before me. I want to be good. I can't bear the idea of my soul being hideous." Chapter 8, pg. 109 He says that he is going to marry Sibyl.

Topic Tracking: Beauty 6

Lord Henry is surprised; he says that he thought Dorian read his letter--Sibyl is dead. Lord Henry cautions Dorian not to do anything that would connect him to it and asks if anyone knows his name at the theatre. Dorian is stunned and asks for details; Sybil took poison at the theatre. Lord Henry says that Dorian should not think about it too much, and that he should come with him to the opera that night. Dorian sees that this is quite a dramatic, tragic occurrence, and finds it interesting that tonight he will be going out, and it will be as if none of this happened. He thinks he should feel it more, and asks if Lord Henry thinks he is heartless. Lord Henry says he has done too many foolish things to be heartless. He says the reason that Dorian doesn't feel the tragedy very much is that it happened so artistically that one can only look at it and feel like the spectator at a play; most women drag things out way too long, but Sibyl must have been different to end things so poetically. "But you must think of that lonely death in the tawdry dressing-room simply as a strange lurid fragment from some Jacobean tragedy, as a wonderful scene from Webster, or Ford, or Cyril Tourneur. The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died." Chapter 8, pg. 116 Dorian feels that Lord Henry has explained something he already knew but could not articulate. He says that he will meet Lord Henry at the opera later, and Lord Henry leaves, telling him that this is only the beginning of their friendship.

Alone with the painting, Dorian checks to see if it has changed any more since hearing the news; it has not. It must have known as it happened. He realizes what this means, and thinks briefly about praying again that the picture not change any more; but he decides that he would be foolish to give up eternal youth. "For there would be a real pleasure in watching it. He would be able to follow his mind into its secret places. This portrait would be to him the most magical of mirrors. As it had revealed to him his own body, so it would reveal to him his own soul." Chapter 8, pg. 120 Dorian gets ready and goes to the opera.

Topic Tracking: Hedonism 4
Topic Tracking: Conscience/Soul 4

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