Oscar Wilde demonstrates the use of misogyny by outcasting the women roles in the book, almost the same way men treated women during the Victorian Era. Throughout this Era and novel, men demonstrated sexist comments and actions along with having a hatred towards women.. Women were considered property of their husbands. The only “job” that was deemed acceptable was a teacher; worst of all, during this Era, women were introduced to a double sexual standard — which were restrictive rules for women’s sexuality with passionate freedom for men.
This began to raise the level of prostitution and even venereal disease. Society in the Victorian Era prevented and discouraged women from having any kind of power. The neglection women received became a norm in both males’ and females’ eyes. In his novel, Wilde disregarded the female roles to represent the life women had during this time period. Due to the lack of importance and the type of treatment women received in the novel, later results to the evil actions Dorian Gray progressively makes and escalates the greediness among the male characters. Lord Henry’s morals often criticize women based on their intelligence, as well as, believing that “women are a decorative sex” and they aren’t worth talking to because “they never have anything to say” (Wilde 51).
The importance of his statement helps provides evidence that men never found any interest in women and they’re only there for a distraction or company. Dorian Gray strikes his first significant encounter with evil with Sibyl Vane, an actress, when he encounters her true feelings about him. Dorian argues that Sibyl is not worth anything when he states, “You are shallow and stupid… how mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. I will never see you again…never think of you…never mention your name… I wish I had never laid eyes upon you! You have spoiled the romance of my life… Without your art, you are nothing” (Wilde 91). Misogyny is being shown through this dialogue because Dorian is demonstrating the lack of care and love for Sibyl and shows that he only really “loved” her for her art, not her true self. Dorian disrespecting and antagonizing Sibyl only corrupted his soul more and will be throughout the rest of the novel.