Nevertheless, the reading public seems more than willing to accept this sort of shadowy documentation with a Dorian-esque credulity. In the same vein is the fervor of some campaign workers (tis the season, after all) for their candidates. Whether they appear as a talking head or as the more insistent pamphlet pushers on the street, I am always amazed at just how willing people are to pledge themselves to perfect strangers. When pushed on the topic, I have heard them reply that they believe in what their candidate can do for the country, not just the candidate themselves. In the end, though, they strike me as no more knowledgeable about their hero's thought processes than Dorian is about Lord Harry's manipulation.
Even through the course of his impulsive and brief engagement to an actress named Sybil Vane, Dorian is only making a poor attempt at living out Harry's ideals. One night, not long after meeting Harry, Dorian goes looking for "some adventure", and ends up at a run-down, third-rate theatre. There he sees the young Sybil Vane playing Juliet and immediately falls in love with her, or at least her acting. He returns again and again to see her play Shakespeare's great heroines. Dorian just rolls over and gushes effusive praise for her abilities as an actress, so much so that he begs her to marry him. Significantly, Dorian is falling in love with the facade of a woman named Vane. She herself is not vain, quite the opposite actually. Were it not for Wilde dedicating a chapter to following her and her family, we would know nothing substantial about her. Even when the theatre manager tries to tell him about her background, Dorian dismisses the discussion, focusing only on what he has seen on the stage. Dorian takes a selfish pleasure in the fact that he has discovered a great actress and that he can be the one to bring her to London society as his wife.
Wilde does something interesting with perspective here. Dorian invites Basil and Lord Harry to the theatre to see his beloved perform. This is the only time that we, as readers, see her act. She's awful. She's so bad that Harry and Basil leave after the first act. Even Dorian thinks she's terrible, which he takes as a personal insult. After the play, he calls off the engagement, ignoring Sybil's piteous seventeen year old wails and chastising her for hurting him by acting poorly. What I can't decide is just how good of an actress she actually was. We only have Dorian's word that she was any good in the first place and he is unreliable at best. Could it be that she was actually bad all along, but he didn't realize it until watching with Basil and Harry? This seems likely, since Harry disapproved of the engagement and rode with Dorian, alone, to the theatre. Now, we don't know what was said, but it's not hard to imagine, nor do I think Wilde means for it to be a mystery.