Rupert Street, Final Project

Rupert Street

Rupert Street is mentioned only once in the novel, in Chapter 6, with the footnote, “In London’s SoHo neighborhood; location of many inexpensive European restaurants” (80). Rupert Street is where Dorian goes to eat at an Italian restaurant before going to see Sibyl, the actress he is infatuated with, act in a play. Dorian mentions the street in passing, almost in a rushed manner, as he breathlessly recounts for Harry his encounter with Sibyl. Rupert Street is in the center of London and was home to many middle-class, well-to-do people, which shows the general wealth of Dorian and his friends for being able to eat there, as well as how Dorian is able to attend the theater multiple nights in a row. The Booth Poverty Map also shows some area of blue, however, indicating that some concentrated parts were very poor. The  fact that the footnote cites the area they’re in as the home to many “inexpensive European restaurants” also speaks to the idea that there are a lot of different kinds of people around where Dorian is at this moment in the book, some well off, some less so. Dorian likes to think very highly of himself and how he spends his time but London is an extremely varied place with all kinds of different people, as we’ve seen in other texts from this semester, and it’s hard to completely ignore that you’re not always surrounded by inherent beauty. Dorian, however, glosses over Rupert Street as a location for this very reason. It’s not entirely beautiful which is off-putting to him. He would rather take the time to describe Sibyl herself in her “moss-colored velvet jerkin with cinnamon sleeves, slim brown cross-gartered hose, a dainty little green cap with a hawk’s feather caught in a jewel, and a hooded cloak lined with dull red” (80). He takes great care to describe the beautiful, but never to describe the ugly.


The Old Bailey showed that much of the crime in the area was pretty serious, the majority of incidents on Rupert Street were grand larceny and there were also a couple instances of murder. The amount of crime, the nature of these crimes, and the footnote are interesting because Dorian eating on Rupert Street before going to the play is a kind of quiet turning point of the play. Up until now Dorian has been able to surround himself with the beautiful and while he’s still showing off his wealth, in the next chapter, much of the beauty begins to fade when he leaves Sibyl, appalled with her lackluster performance, and Sibyl subsequently kills herself. Rupert Street may have been outwardly fashionable, but it also contains poverty and decay, just like Dorian himself.

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