As they dine together, Henry informs Basil that Dorian is to be married. Basil doesn’t believe it, and Henry reminds him that being engaged is not the same as being married. Concerned, Basil questions Henry about the girl; he doesn’t want Dorian to marry beneath him. Henry assures Basil that the girl’s beauty is not in doubt, that Dorian’s eye for appearance has been very much quickened since he saw his portrait.
When the idea of an equal marriage is brought up, Henry assumes that Basil means physical attractiveness as the measure of this equality. This shows how one-sided and flat his view of Dorian is and the importance placed on appearance. Even vanity is described as being a good thing by Henry.
When asked if he approves of the match, Henry says the experience of marriage will be interesting to observe in Dorian but that he disapproves of marriage as a whole, saying it makes people unselfish. Basil is sure that Henry doesn’t mean a word he says, but Henry goes on regardless, saying that connecting oneself with others is protection from one’s own fears.
Isolation, selfishness and the refusal of a traditional lifestyle are the messages of Henry’s speech. Henry’s care is for the spectacle of Dorian’s marriage, whether happy or not. He is making a show of Dorian’s life.
Dorian interrupts them, in jubilant spirits and tells his friends about his engagement. He describes how Sybil, dressed as Rosalind, beautiful in boy clothes as if she was made for the role, returned his love. After the show, Dorian went backstage and the pair had their first kiss. It was a moment of elation and occurred to Dorian as if he were kissing all of Shakespeare’s heroines at once.
The layers of costume covering the real Sybil and Dorian’s affections is almost confusing. Dorian is attracted to the romance of Shakespeare. There is an unreality to the scene between him and Sybil. Again, art provides an ideal and not a reality. And through Sybil, Dorian feels himself kissing art.
Henry pushes Dorian to explain about his engagement. He says that it was actually Sybil who first mentioned marriage. Henry comments that this is typical of a woman. Basil scolds him for his rudeness but Dorian’s spirits will not be dampened. He declares himself changed, and spouts romantic traditional values of how unbreakable vows and the like have made him see past Lord Henry’s tempting theories. Lord Henry claims that pleasure is the only theory to have, and that they, as rich men, can live a life of beautiful sin. Dorian dismisses the argument, sure that when Lord Henry sees Sybil act, he will know a new standard.
Dorian’s happiness is mocked and undermined by Henry, but it is impossible to tell Henry off, because he doesn’t believe in morality in the same way as the other characters. Life and riches and trips to the theatre have given Henry a well-developed sense of good taste..