The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose
Oskar Wilde’s fairy tales – The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose – reveal moral and ethical dilemmas that the protagonists encounter in their search for the truth and love. Both stories are also about sacrifice for the sake of love, peace, and happiness.
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The first story presents The Happy Prince, a leaden statute who seems to be happy by appearance, but his inside his soul, he was not happy at all because the city he guards is full of misery, diseases, and poverty. At the end, the protagonist and swallow die, but their sacrifice was made for the sake of the real happiness.
Similarly, the Nightingale is ready to sacrifice his life for love believing that this is the most precious thing in the world, even more precious than life. At the end of the story, the Nightingale is ready to die to make the Student happy and have the heed of his beloved. At the end, both protagonists realize that appearances are deceptive and that jewelries are not worth a thing as compared to real values, such as love and happiness.
Both narrations disclose Wilde’s conception of “art for art’s sake”, but in different ways. In the first case, the Happy Prince neglects his beauty because it does not make him happy. He realizes that the precious stones can help a young playwright create a masterpiece and, therefore, he is ready to sacrifice his beauty for the art’s sake.
In the second story, the Nightingale’s passion and devotedness also advocates the idea of art for art’s sake. She presses her breast on thorn until the most beautiful rose is born and recognizes that Love and Beauty are worth of dying for.
The story reveals to an extent the concept of moral aestheticism advocated by Oscar Wilde. In particular, his fairy tales depict the main characteristics of the English society, the problem of the rich and the poor, as well as different characters and prototypes that disguise specific people. The stories, therefore, reveal the idea that people using fairy tales help him render the most problematic issues of his time.