The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde
Author: Oscar Wilde
Published: May 1888
Genre: Short story collections
The Happy Prince and Other Tales is a collection of stories written by famous Irish playwright and author Oscar Wilde. This book was first published in May 1888 and quickly became a children’s literature classic.
1. Synopsis of The Happy Prince and Other Tales
The stories in the book are often considered to be some of Wilde’s finest works, and they deal with themes of love, sacrifice, and redemption. The Happy Prince and Other Tales features five fairy tales, including ‘The Happy Prince,’ ‘The Nightingale and the Rose,’ ‘The Selfish Giant,’ ‘The Devoted Friend,’ and ‘The Remarkable Rocket.’ In this article, we will explore the various stories in “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” and analyze their themes.
2. The Happy Prince
“The Happy Prince” tells the story of a statue of a prince who was once an actual prince but died young. The statue is covered in gold and precious stones and stands on a high pedestal in the city’s center. One day, a swallow lands on the statue and befriends the prince. The prince asks the swallow to help him distribute his wealth to the poor of the city. The swallow agrees and spends the rest of his days carrying the jewels and gold from the statue to the people who need them. Ultimately, the swallow dies, and the prince’s heart breaks. The story ends with the statue being melted down and the prince and the swallow ascending to heaven.
The themes of “The Happy Prince” are love, sacrifice, and redemption. The prince is willing to sacrifice everything to help the city’s people. The swallow is willing to sacrifice his life to help the prince. Both characters show selflessness and compassion towards others, and their actions result in their redemption. “The Happy Prince” holds a special place as Wilde’s trademark story and may represent the author’s definitive declaration regarding the connection between inner and outer beauty.
Find out more about “The Happy Prince.”
3. The Nightingale and the Rose
“The Nightingale and the Rose” is a story about a nightingale who falls in love with a young man. The lovestruck young man must give his would-be lover a red rose to win her heart. Unfortunately, it is winter, and there are no red roses to be found. The Nightingale overhears his lament from a solitary oak tree and decides to help the poor young man. As she seeks the perfect rose for him, she comes across a rose bush without red roses to offer.
The Nightingale sacrifices herself to create a red rose for the man. She sings all night, piercing her breast with a thorn to dye the rose red. In the morning, the man finds the rose and takes it to his love. However, the woman rejects the rose because it is too late, and she has already received jewels from another man. The story ends with the nightingale dying and the rose being trampled underfoot.
The themes of “The Nightingale and the Rose” are love, sacrifice, and unrequited love. The nightingale is willing to sacrifice everything for the man she loves, even though her love is unrequited. The story shows the cruelty of love and how it can lead to heartbreak and tragedy.
4. The Selfish Giant
“The Selfish Giant” is about a giant living in a castle with a beautiful garden. The giant is very selfish and refuses to let the children of the village play in his garden. He goes as far as building a tall fence around his garden. One winter, the giant wakes up to find that his garden is covered in snow. As spring is right around the bend, the Giant awaits for his garden to come alive with flowers, but his ground remains barren.
The only spot that is not covered is a tree full of blossoms. The giant realizes that the village’s children are playing in the tree. He is moved by the joy and laughter of the children, and he decides to let them play in his garden. As a result, spring returns to the garden, and the giant is transformed. He becomes kind and generous, and the children continue to play in his garden.
The themes of “The Selfish Giant” are selfishness, kindness, and redemption. The giant’s selfishness is what causes his isolation and unhappiness. However, when he becomes kind and generous, he is rewarded with happiness and the love of the children.
5. The Devoted Friend
“The Devoted Friend” starts with a Linnet, a Duck, and a Water-rat assemble around a pond, discussing what it means to be a friend. The conversation leads the Linnet to craft a story about friendship.
The Linnet narrates the friendship between a wealthy, self-centered tradesman named Hugh the miller and a naive poor peasant named Hans. The miller constantly asks Hans to do favors, and Hans always obliges. However, the miller takes advantage of Hans and never pays him for his work. When winter arrives, the miller chooses to stay at home with his wife and son instead of going to help Hans, who is suffering terribly.
One day, the miller’s son is injured and asks Hans to seek a doctor in the middle of a rainy and stormy night. After getting a doctor, Han falls into a hole full of water on his way home and drowns. The story ends with the miller still being unappreciative of how good a friend Hans is.
The themes of “The Devoted Friend” are friendship, greed, and exploitation. The miller pretends to be Hans’s friend, but he only uses him for his gain. The story shows the dangers of greed and the importance of true friendship.
6. The Remarkable Rocket
“The Remarkable Rocket” is a story about a vain and arrogant rocket who believes that he is the most important thing in the world. The rocket is supposed to be launched for a royal celebration, but when the time comes, he cries to show off his “sensitivity” to others. He fails to ignite as the crying makes him wet. The other fireworks in the display are more beautiful and impressive than the rocket. The story ends with the rocket being thrown into a ditch and forgotten.
The themes of “The Remarkable Rocket” are vanity, arrogance, and insignificance. The rocket is so focused on himself that he fails to see the beauty and importance of the other fireworks. The story shows the dangers of pride and the insignificance of individual accomplishments in the grand scheme of things.
7. Notable Book Covers
“The Happy Prince and Other Tales” is a collection of stories dealing with love, sacrifice, redemption, selfishness, kindness, friendship, greed, exploitation, vanity, arrogance, and insignificance. The stories are written in a whimsical and profound style and appeal to children and adults. The book is a classic of children’s literature and a testament to the enduring power of Oscar Wilde’s writing.