The Picture of Dorian Gray "Conscience Makes Egotists Of Us All"
by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
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"Conscience Makes Egotists Of Us All"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Dorian Gray falls in love with Sibyl Vane, an actress, and one evening takes his close friend, Lord Henry Wotton, to see her perform. Sibyl's performance is so bad that she is hissed by the audience. Dorian goes to her dressing room and tells her that his love for her is dead. Having returned to his apartment, he notices that the portrait painted of him by Basil Itallward has changed slightly in appearance. He then realizes that his wish that he remain young and the portrait grow old has been granted. The next morning Lord Henry tells Dorian that Sibyl killed herself the evening before. Lord Henry then relates his own past love affairs, lamenting the fact that his lovers never killed themselves but lived on. Continuing about the women in his past, he says:

"Others find a great consolation in suddenly discovering the good qualities of their husbands. They flaunt their conjugal felicity in one's face, as if it were the most fascinating of sins. Religion consoles some. Its mysteries have all the charm of a flirtation, a woman once told me; and I can quite understand it. Besides, nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a ninner. Conscience makes egotists of us all."