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Dorian Gray And The Lady Of Shallot: Stepping Out Of The Shadows

1132 words - 5 pages

During one’s life, one must step out into the real world and experience all of what the world has to offer. In order to attain a well-balanced life both mentally and socially, one may seek any way possible to live life to the fullest. We were put on this earth to live- not just simply by breathing in and out everyday, and making life the best it can possibly be. It has been said that you have not really died if you have lived. This theory has been applied to several pieces of literature. In the book The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and “The Lady of Shallot” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, two characters have not lived their life to the fullest extent. In the aforementioned literature, the characters of Sibyl Vane and the Lady of Shallot lived their lives through the invulnerability of constant security.

Sibyl Vane is an actress who is greatly devoted to her acting career. She is so consumed by her realm of acting that she does not experience the many other aspects and joys that life has to offer. All her heart, soul, and mind is put into her hobby, as it envelops her entire existence. Sibyl solely depends on this mindset to carry her throughout her life.

Leading a life similar to that of Sibyl Vane’s is the Lady of Shallot. In this poem, she is condemned to weaving and forbidden to ever look out of her window down to the wonderful city of Camelot. If she should look down, a terrible curse shall be laid upon her. Both Sibyl Vane and the Lady of Shallot are artists who lead very sheltered lives and have an unfortunate fate ahead of them. Before the story beings, Oscar Wilde describes the effects that art has on a person. He states, “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbols do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors (Wilde 3).”

These sheltered lives allow the women to remain in their safe little worlds, apart from what other ways of life the world has to offer. In order for them to lead a less “curtained” life, they needed to take more chances in hopes of more goodness and reality to welcome into their lives. When speaking to Dorian Gray, Sibyl’s lover, Sibyl admits that her life was consumed by the theatre. She confesses:

…Before I knew you, acting was the one reality of my life. It was only in the theatre that I lived…. I believed in everything. The common people who acted with me seemed to me to be godlike. The painted scenes were my world. I knew nothing but shadows, and I thought them real…. Prince Charming! I have grown sick of shadows (66).”

Sibyl repeatedly hides away from having to be a part of life because she has been in a world of unreality. When she loves Dorian she has the courage to step out of the shadows. She has stepped out into the world and the world his her life, depriving her of the shadows. When she finally steps out of her shadows and into her reality, fate comes into play. When Dorian tells her the...

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