Study Guide

The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 5

By Oscar Wilde

Chapter 5

  • Sibyl and her mother are at home in their dingy house, a world away from Lord Henry's luxurious abode. Sibyl is totally infatuated with Dorian, and love is the only thing on her young, naïve mind.
  • Sibyl's world-weary mother, however, has other things on her mind—she's cynical, and is more concerned with things like money than Sybil's innocent adoration. Sibyl asks her mother if she was ever this in love with her absent father; obviously, this hits close to home. We have to wonder what Sibyl's mother was like in her youth—was she as naïve and optimistic as her daughter?
  • The narrator informs us rather cruelly of how "second-rate" and ridiculously theatrical Mrs. Vane is, playing up the fact that she's always conscious of how her actions look, even when her audience is just her children. When Sibyl's brother, James, enters the room, their mother pauses dramatically with her arms around Sibyl for theatrical effect.
  • James and Sibyl are obviously quite close. He's leaving for Australia to try and make some money, and he wants to take Sibyl out for one last walk. The siblings agree to go to the park.
  • While Sibyl's upstairs changing, James grills his mother about his sister's mysterious suitor. We gather that Mrs. Vane thinks highly of Dorian, who she calls a "perfect gentleman."
  • James is unconvinced, and makes his mother promise to look after the girl.
  • Sibyl and James go off on their walk, leaving their obnoxious mother behind.
  • Compared to Sibyl, James is a horse of a different color. He's much more suspicious of people, and is a lot more street-smart than his dreamy sister. Sibyl goes on and on about her vision of James' idyllic future in Australia, but all the while, he's worrying about Dorian's intentions towards his sister. After all, Sibyl and Mrs. Vane don't even know Dorian's name yet. Who knows if he's trustworthy?
  • James comes out and warns Sibyl to be careful, but she laughs him off, saying that Dorian is Prince Charming, and can do no wrong.
  • The siblings sit on a park bench, watching the wealthy people go by. Suddenly, Dorian drives past in a carriage. Sibyl and James strain to see him, but, before James catches a glimpse, the carriage is gone.
  • James is torn between his love for his sister and his resentment of this mysterious Prince Charming. He promises not to hurt Dorian as long as Sibyl still loves him.
  • At home, James and Sibyl say their goodbyes. Even though James is resentful and jealous of the strange suitor, he's still terribly sad to leave home—after all, he's just sixteen.
  • After leaving Sibyl in her room, James goes to see his mother. He demands to know whether or not she was married to their father—it turns out, she wasn't. We find out that he was also a gentleman, like Dorian, and he couldn't (or wouldn't) make an honest woman of her—he died without leaving them anything.
  • James again insists that his mother take good care of Sibyl, and says that if her suitor does anything to hurt her, he'll come back and kill him.
  • Mrs. Vane is secretly thrilled by the melodramatic ring of this threat—it actually cheers her up, despite the fact that her son is leaving home for a strange country. She feels like things are looking up.