But what of Sibyl Vane, the actress Dorian falls madly in love with in the fourth chapter? Her character is incredibly involved with the concealment of appearances, as she hides behind theatrics and romantic tales in the face of reality. That is, until she fell in love with Dorian Gray. She refers to Dorian as Prince Charming and regales her brother with the fine heiress he shall save from bandits and marry in Australia, returning to live in London with her, and all that that idyllic story promises. She is very much like the Lady of Shallot from Tennyson’s poem of that name, as it is her realization of the real world that winds up ruining her.
Within a few paragraphs of the reader first meeting her in person, she’s revealed as being capable of some measure of secrecy. Wilde writes that her voice was happy and her eyes “echoed it in radiance; then closed for a moment, as if to hide their secret… When they opened, the mist of a dream had passed” (Wilde 100). In those words, Sibyl’s idealism and concealment are at once apparent. Particularly because her eyes were involved in that reference. Science of the nineteenth century had not only discovered just how the human eye functioned, but they were fascinated with it, so her eye hiding some mystery of her soul is an appealing feature in literature at this time.
It was shortly before her suicide that she explained to Dorian how reality was shown to her through her love and of course, that was where his revulsion with her began. In her death, the terrible strength of an appearance’s exposure is most clear. She’s delighted to tell her love that, “to-night, for the first time in my life, I saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness of the empty pageant in which I had always played” (Wilde 123). Sibyl is delighted, perpetually glad, that she can’t act anymore for knowing the world too well. But Dorian is sickened, he turns away from her with that beautiful face she so loved, and accuses her of killing his love. At the end of his scathing speech, her pleadings, he finds her not fascinating, but pathetic. In seeing her as she really is, not as her roles made her out to be, Dorian became disgusted.