In the Victorian Era of mid nineteen to early twentieth century, a woman’s role in society remained to be in the household, away from the business and cares of men. The feminine side is portrayed as negative, powerless, and lacking (Kileen 49). Society discouraged women from having power in society and neglecting women represented normal in the eyes of most men and women. However, Victorian novels such as The Picture of Dorian Gray illustrate the consequences of disregarding women. In Oscar Wilde’s only novel, the lack of importance surrounding the female characters and their careless treatment from men results in the selfishness of the male characters exemplified through Dorian Gray’s acts of evil.
Dorian Gray inflicts his first and most important act of evil upon Sibyl Vane, a third rate actress he falls in love with, when he confronts her about the performance. His reaction towards Sibyl demonstrates his the lack of care towards what women have to say and their opinions. Dorian claims of Sibyl to be shallow and stupid as regards to her feelings towards him and her reason for the careless performance. The realization of Dorian finally recognizing his love for her acting rather than her as a person reveals the frequent ill treatment of women in the Victorian Era. Due to his first real infliction of evil towards another person, his soul alters and reflects in the painting. As Davis recalls, “His rejection of Sibyl is cruel, and it is this cruelty that he first notices on the alerting portrait,” (Davis 214). Because he did not care about how Sibyl felt at the moment, he becomes selfish and would later become evil. The treatment of Sibyl results in her committing suicide but rather than Dorian grieving, Lord Henry teaches him ...
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...y others to be a devoted aesthetic due to his concerns to consumerism and fashion, but not a feminist (Mintler 139). Thus, the neglect of women in Dorian Gray is evident and Oscar Wilde had more pursuit over aesthetics than the feminist movement, which is reflected by Dorian’s means of aesthetic pursue over the care of women.
Women in the Victorian Era cast aside by their male counterparts result in consequences such as those illustrated by Oscar Wilde. Men who primarily only care for themselves and belittling the feelings of women turn into tremendously selfish beings. From the first act of evil towards Sibyl Vane, to the last major act of killing Basil Hallward, the immoral acts of Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray show the definite result of disregarding women and in turn, caused chaos amongst the male figures in the novel.
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