Society beautiful young actress Dorian falls in love

Society in the Victorian Era was far different than society in present day. Back then, It was a belief that men and women were different in nature, and had complementary roles. The dominant public sphere of work was reserved for men only, strictly separated from the private, feminine side where majority of their day will be spent in the household. After examining Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, using the lens of feminist criticism, it is clear that female characters are treated quite poorly in comparison to male characters.  In fact, it is the male characters, Dorian Gray in particular, who treat female characters as if they are powerless and worthless.The weakness of women is found in various forms throughout the text. Dorian Gray commits his first act of selfishness upon someone he loved named Sibyl Vane. She is the beautiful young actress Dorian falls in love with. Sibyl’s character symbolizes a “caged bird” based off of Dorian’s descriptions. A caged bird represents the idea that as an actress, Sibyl is trapped by the standards of society. When she is offered a choice to be free, she rejects and states that she would hate to be free. Therefore, she is a great representation as a female victim of society in the Victorian Era who has been trapped for decades not knowing what to do if she was truly free. She is not portrayed as a strong woman, as she gives up on life when Dorian abandons her. When Dorian confronted her, he revealed his lack of care towards women’s opinions and what they have to say. Dorian claims that Sibyl’s feelings for him is stupid and regrets knowing her, leading to her ending her own life. After Dorian reveals his true feelings towards her, she cries out, “Don’t go away from me. I couldn’t bear it.” (Wilde, 78) Even after seeing the cruel side of her true love, she blindly begs for him to return to her. Furthermore, it is evident how she could be seen as a stereotypical Victorian woman due to her dependence on men in her life.Lord Henry, a male character who manipulates Dorian Gray throughout the book states, “The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died,” (Wilde, 107). The act of Sibyl being tossed aside and forgot about leads to Dorian portraying how he feels about women. The fact that Lord Henry ignores Sibyl’s death is evidence of his lack of care towards the female characters. If Lord Henry was not so selfish and manipulative, it would have allowed Dorian to learn from the tragedy and realize the devastation he has caused. In addition, Dorian would not have cast aside the cares of others and instead focus on the feelings of others. Lord Henry states that “Women have no appreciation of good looks” (Wilde, 17), implying that women’s opinions are incorrect. Moreover, throughout the novel, the showing of emotion towards the female characters is looked upon negatively. “My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” (Wilde, 53). This quote clearly indicates the sentiments towards the female sex. When analyzing this quote, it tells us that women are mainly used to pleasure men, they have no say in society and their opinions do not matter. With Lord Henry mentioning that everyone of worth he knows are males, it illustrates how irrelevant and worthless women are according to the men in the novel. Throughout the novel, it is evident to see women portrayed as weak, dependent individuals. After the tragic death of Sibyl, her mother Mrs. Vane was also revealed as another stereotypical female victim in the Victorian Era. After Sibyl’s father death when she was a young age, it lead for Sibyl’s protective older brother, James Vane to step up and be the male figure in the family. According to the British Library, “The roles as housewives were to bear children, take care of the young ones as well as submitting to the husbands.” (British Library). Thus, that was the way Mrs. Vane’s day to day life was. She would stay at home and take care of the children while the man of the house, James Vayne would be doing manual labour as a sailor. After Sibyl’s death, Mrs Vane was portrayed to not able to move on with her life after Sibyl’s death. Showing her weakness and dependence on others since she was a female in that era. It was only Sibyl’s brother, James Vane who was strong and independent enough to move on. He pursues his own life in search of vengeance for Sibyl’s death. It is evident in Wilde’s novel that whenever a woman is spoken of, she is talked about negatively and downgrading. The first time a woman is mentioned in the novel, Basil describes Lady Brandon, his wife, as having a sharp high pitched voice to which Lord Henry replies that “she is a peacock in everything except beauty” (Wilde 11). Other characteristics of Lady Brandon, according to Basil and Lord Henry, include her “treating her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods”, and her failing in opening a saloon (Wilde 12). The quotes previously stated goes to show how the men in the novel view women. They view female characters to be useless in everything except their looks. Even the husband of Lady Brandon concludes that due to her gender as a female, she is not strong and powerful enough to open up a saloon. The separation between males and females in Dorian Gray is striking. Women portrayed in this novel represent the stereotypical women in the Victorian Era. Their opinions are worthless and their main purpose in society were to satisfy men. While the men are seen to be at a bar drinking amongst themselves go around the city in search of women at parties. These examples show how women are portrayed in the novel, and how men deal with them. If a woman is mentioned at all, she is either objectified, portrayed as a weak dependent person or talked about negatively which can be seen through the male characters such as Dorian Gray.