ENGA10H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Opium Den

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Published on 15 Dec 2016
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The outline of Dorian Grey from portal:
1. introduction to Lord Henry (wealthy dilettante) and Basil Hallward (talented painter, not much of
a thinker). Key point: Hallward admitting Art does not represent the world "out there" anymore, as
it might have in the time of 'the great chain of being', but now can only showcase the feelings of
the painter who paints. As such, he will not exhibit any paintings of Dorian Gray as they "reveal
his soul"
2. Dorian arrives, Basil paints. LH talks. LH offers certitude to Dorian's anxiety, but of a terrifying
kind: all that matters is how you affect others and this determines how much enjoyment you can
expect from others, so you're charming, enjoy it while it lasts. This panics DG's fateful wish: why
can't the painting grow old and I stay young?
3. We learn DG's childhood story: his beautiful mother married a mere soldier, out of love. her
snobbish father (Dorian's grandfather) arranged a fake duel with a skilled swordsman, knowing
his hated son-in-law would be killed. His widowed daughter died of grief, and DG's likeness to
her was such a torment to him, he handed him over to servants to raise. DG spent years alone
in the very room he will eventually hide the portrait--not a coincidence! LH delighted; here is a
boy he can dominate and influence to amuse himself.
4. DG shows up to tell LH he is in love with unknown girl actress playing different Shakespeare
heroines every night in a shabby little theatre in a sketchy part of town.
5. a glimpse into Sibyl Vane's life: a narcissistic melodramatic, unrealistic single mother; a hard-
working, bitter, suspicious older brother. The mother loves the drama of Sibyl's affair with a man
she only calls 'Prince Charming' (thus emphasizing her own painful naivete and 'fairy tale' Disney
princess-like awareness of 'love'). James gets his mother to admit she was not married to their
father before he leaves for Australia.
6. DG thrilled to bring BH and LH to see Sibyl. tells LH he rejects all his cynical views now he is
in love.
7. Sibyl Vane acts atrociously this night. DG storms back stage to demand why. 'I thought you
would understand' she says. 'I imitated love so beautifully with Shakespeare's works because i
was lonely and unloved. Now I have your love, I can't fake it.' In a rage, he tells her 'how little
you know yourself. Without your art you're nothing', thus making it clear he was in love with the
way her performance made him feel--never with her. He's surprised, upon returning home, to see
the portrait has developed a slight sneer. Forces the realization he was brutal to Sibyl. He
resolves to make it right in the morning--she will be a beacon for him to do right (notice he still
has no idea who SHE is; he's just assigned a new role to her).
8. In the morning, he prepares to set this plan in motion, only to hear from LH his brutal rejection
drover her to suicide. He is in despair but LH persuades him she doesn't know his name, there
is no connection to him, she never really lived other than through parroting Shakespeare's
words, so she didn't really die--and DG decides to hide the painting in the attic and pursue
pleasure at everybody else's expense, from now on. He attends a performance at the opera.
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