The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
About the author | Oscar Wilde
During his prolific literary career, he wrote nine plays, one novel, many poems, short stories, and essays. Wilde was a promoter of the Aesthetic movement, which emphasized aesthetic values more than moral or social themes.
His famous novels included The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest, and his famous anthology of short stories named under The Happy Prince and Other Tales were published in 1888. He died of cerebral meningitis (brain tumor) in 1900.
Summary | The Happy Prince
There was a Swallow who lived near a stream. His friends had gone away to Egypt six weeks before but he had not because he was in love with the most beautiful
reed. The other had told him that his affection was ridiculous and funny because the reed was penniless and too many relations, and she was always enjoying with the wind.
At last, the Swallow knew that he was going to die because of intense cold
weather. So he decided to stay with the Happy Prince. Swallow asked the Prince to kiss on his lips, as he loved him. At the same time, Swallow fell down on his feet and died.
Critical Aspects of the story
Background of the story
Title of the story
Different characters represent various sections of society
In the story, almost every character represents a different character of Victorian society. Firstly the Happy Prince represents a typical ruler who is totally detached from the common run of people and gives himself over to a life of pleasure and enjoyment.
The Theme of the Story
The theme of the story is the achievement of real happiness. It is achieved by sharing the woes and sufferings of common men and women. The pursuit of superficial pleasure gives only temporary satisfaction.
The marvelous and good
Values of men and God
Physical and Spiritual Development
Political and social criticism
The story is a political and social criticism by the author. The rulers whether they are kings or politicians always’ aim at leading a luxurious life The politicians
make tall and false claims but never fulfill them.
Important Questions and Answers
What kind of life did Oscar Wild create in the Happy Prince?
Show that the short story titled The Happy Prince is a fantasy.
The Happy Prince starts as a fantasy but ends with a moral lesson. Discuss.
Oscar Wilde was the greatest Irish novelist and short story writer. His chief subjects were the problems of the Victorian age, such as poverty, misery, suffering, hypocrisy, and exploitation. The Happy Prince is a fantasy with a fairy-tale atmosphere.
Fantasy or fairy tale is an unreal story. In the story, the objects like the statue, the characters like Swallow and the reed were made to think and speak like human beings. Basically Oscar Wilde has written this story for his own sons but it has a great moral lesson for the grown-ups.
The writer wants to say that spiritual beauty is more valuable and attractive than physical beauty. Taking pity on the needy, helping the helpless, being charitable to all, and serving human beings are the greatest virtues.
The main purpose of human beings is to serve humanity. At the end of the story, the writer had explained the moral lesson. God orders his angel to go to the city and fetch the two most precious things. The angel brings Him the leaden heart of the prince and the dead bird.
You have rightly chosen, or in my garden of paradise this little bird shall sing for, evermore, and in my city of gold, the Happy Prince shall praise me. God loves the charitable and rewards them with His special blessings. Love needs and this is the moral lesson of this story.
How did the Swallow help the people?
How is the Swallow in Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince fair as a friend?
Discuss the help of the Happy Prince through the Swallow.
In The Happy Prince, the Happy Prince sacrificed his materialistic things for the
Poor and the Swallow sacrificed his life for the Happy Prince. One night a Swallow took shelter between the feet of the Happy Prince. He was astonished to see that the Happy Prince was weeping.
When he asked the reason, the Happy Prince requested him to stay with him and helped the poor and needy. So on the request, he stayed and took off a ruby from the hilt of the Happy Prince’s sword and gave it to a poor seamstress, whose son was ill and asking for oranges.
The next night, Swallow took a sapphire from the eye of the Happy Prince to the starving playwright. Again, the Happy Prince requested the Swallow to gave his, another sapphire eye to a poor match girl.
Although Swallow was not agreed to pluck the second eye, yet on the request of the Happy Prince was forced to give the sapphire eye to the poor match girl. When the Happy Prince gave away both the eyes, he became blind so Swallow decided to remain with him throughout his life.
After that, the Happy Prince requested the Swallow to fly over the city and informed him about the problems of the poor. Swallow flew over the city and told him about the miseries and sufferings of the poor people.
In this way the Happy Prince requested the Swallow to remove his gold cover and gave it to the poor. The Swallow took off the gold covering leaf by leaf and gave it to the poor. In this way, the Happy Prince and the Swallow helped the poor.
Discuss the basic theme of the story.
The theme of the story is the achievement of happiness. It is achieved by sharing the woes and sufferings of common men and women. The pursuits of superficial pleasure give only temporary satisfaction, whereas the pursuit of achieving through love and sacrifice gives unending and lasting pleasure.
The rich people who remain devoted to life, are bound to and weep afterward. In this world, a man may avoid reality by keeping himself blind to surrounding life but one day he comes to know the true picture of this temporary world.
A man of royal status like the Happy Prince remains generally surrounded by his followers, who sing his praises for his misdeeds. But when the reality is revealed they have to weep and repay for their sins. The main idea of the happy prince is that love and sacrifice are the most valuable things in the eyes of God.
Happy Prince sees best when he has no eyes to see. Explain.
Write a note on the tragic end of the Happy Prince and Swallow.
When the prince had become blind of both the. eyes, the good-natured Swallow decided to live with him forever. He told the prince strange things about strange lands. The prince of the story said to the Swallow, you tell me of things, but more marvelous than anything is the suffering of men and women.
There is no mystery so great as misery Actually, the prince wanted to know about the misery of the people so that he could help them. The Swallow flew over the city and told the prince about the sufferings of the common people.
The prince asked the Swallow to take off the gold from him leaf by leaf and give it to the poor. The Swallow picked off all the gold till the happy prince looked dull and ugly. The snow was followed by frost and the poor little Swallow grew colder and colder.
He flew to the prince’s shoulder kissed him and died at his feet. Something broke inside the statue. It was the leaden heart of the prince. The next day the mayor of the city came there and ordered that the ugly statue of the prince should be removed from that place.
The statue was melted in the furnace but the heart did not melt. It was thrown on the trash heap near the dead body of the Swallow. God ordered His angel to go to the city and fetch the two most precious things.
The angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird. You have rightly chosen, said, God. For in My garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing forevermore and in My city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise Me.