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Quotes

Quote #4

"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." (4.9)

Lord Henry's derogatory, condescending view of women is a theme that lingers through the entire book. Women seem simply not to interest him at all, and even when they're his equals (like Gladys), he tires of them immediately.

Quote #5

"[…] And now tell me -- reach me the matches, like a good boy -- thanks -- what are your actual relations with Sibyl Vane?"

Dorian Gray leaped to his feet, with flushed cheeks and burning eyes. "Harry! Sibyl Vane is sacred!"

"It is only the sacred things that are worth touching, Dorian," said Lord Henry, with a strange touch of pathos in his voice. "But why should you be annoyed? I suppose she will belong to you some day. When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance." (4.10-11)

Trust Lord Henry to bring Dorian's idealistic talk about love back to the physical heart of the matter – sex. Henry's cynicism about love seems to boil down to the rather tragic idea that we're all deluding our selves with fancy, poetic emotions; "sacred" love can be reduced, in his view, to physical passion.

Quote #6

"My dear Dorian," answered Lord Henry, taking a cigarette from his case and producing a gold-latten matchbox, "the only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life. If you had married this girl, you would have been wretched. Of course, you would have treated her kindly. One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing. But she would have soon found out that you were absolutely indifferent to her. And when a woman finds that out about her husband, she either becomes dreadfully dowdy, or wears very smart bonnets that some other woman's husband has to pay for. I say nothing about the social mistake, which would have been abject -- which, of course, I would not have allowed -- but I assure you that in any case the whole thing would have been an absolute failure." (8.16)

Yet again, Lord Henry expresses his discontent with the institution of marriage, and of the relationship between men and women. He seems to think that there is no way for the two sexes to successfully be together.

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