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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Without her you would have been incomplete.” “Thanks, Basil,”
answered Dorian Gray, pressing his hand. “I knew that you would
understand me. Harry is so cynical, he terrifies me. But here is the
orchestra. It is quite dreadful, but it only lasts for about five
minutes. Then the curtain rises, and you will see the girl to whom I
am going to give all my life, to whom I have given everything that
is good in me.” A quarter of an hour afterwards, amidst an
extraordinary turmoil of applause, Sibyl Vane stepped on the
stage. Yes, she was certainly, lovely to look at-one of the loveliest
creatures, Lord Henry thought, that he had ever seen. There was
something of the fawn in her shy grace and startled eyes. A faint
blush, like the shadow of a rose in a mirror of silver, came to her
cheeks as she glanced at the crowded, enthusiastic house. She
stepped back a few paces, and her lips seemed to tremble. Basil
Hallward leaped to his feet and began to applaud. Motionless, and
as one in a dream, sat Dorian Gray, gazing at her. Lord Henry
peered through his glasses, murmuring, “Charming! charming!”
The scene was the hall of Capulet’s house, and Romeo in his
pilgrim’s dress had entered with Mercutio and his other friends.
The band, such as it was, struck up a few bars of music, and the
dance began. Through the crowd of ungainly, shabbily-dressed
actors, Sibyl Vane moved like a creature from a finer world. Her
body swayed, while she danced, as a plant sways in the water. The
curves of her throat were the curves of the white lily. Her hands
seemed to be made of cool ivory.

Yet she was curiously listless. She showed no sign of love when her
eyes rested on Romeo. The few words she had to speakGood
pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, Which mannerly
devotion shows in this’ For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands
do touch, And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss with the brief
dialogue that follows, were spoken in a thoroughly artificial
manner. The voice was exquisite, but from the point of view of
tone it was absolutely false. It was wrong in colour. It took away all
life from the verse. It made the passion unreal.

Dorian Gray grew pale as he watched her. He was puzzled and
anxious. Neither of his friends dared to say anything to him. She
seemed to them to be absolutely incompetent. They were horribly

Yet they felt that the true test of any Juliet is the balcony scene of
the second act. They waited for that. If she failed there, there was
nothing in her.

She looked charming as she came out in the moonlight. That could
not be denied. But the staginess of her acting was unbearable, and
grew worse as she went on. Her gestures became absurdly
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