18 Nov 2016

BA English short story The Happy Prince By Oscar Wilde

The Happy Prince a satire on Victorian Age

The Happy Prince as a fairy tale

The Happy Prince
      By Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin. He was the son of Sir William Wilde, a doctor of distinguished reputation. Oscar was recognized as a fine classical scholar even during his school life and he won a number of distinctions during his college carrier. He is a very prominent writer of the 19th century.

The Happy prince" is one of his representative stories. .It has a fairy tale mode of expression. It creates a world which is ideal and non- imitative. But this fairy tale is not separated from the surroundings realities of the Victorian Age. It rather discusses all the problem of Victorian Age such as poverty, hypocrisy and exploitation
Modern critics have expressed their opinion on the dark psychological motives of these stories. The story is about the statue of a prince standing very high in the middle of the city. It was very beautiful. It was all covered with thin foils of gold. Its eyes were made of glowing sapphires and its sword was bearing a precious ruby.

The story is about a prince who was very happy when he was alive because he enjoyed all the luxuries of life and he could not see the sufferings of the human beings. When he was dead and his statue was fixed on a high pillar in the middle of the city he could look at the human difficulties and miseries he could now see with his own eyes poverty, disease and hunger of the poor and the needy. 

The story describes the unnatural distance between the people and the rulers a result of which the problems and difficulties of the common people remain hidden from the view of the princes and the kings.And when they come to know about the problems, some of them like the happy prince try to solve them but it is usually too late by then.

Being fixed on a high column in the middle of the city, he was able to see all the sorrows of the humans. But he was unable to do anything for them. One day a little swallow comes to him. The prince requests the swallow to tear the foils of gold and ruby from its body and distribute them to the poor and the needy. The little swallow does the same. Gradually the prince becomes ugly outwardly. He even becomes blind. 

The corporation authorities of the city think that it has become very ugly and they tear down the statue. It is melted in the foundry but the leaden hat of the statue would not melt. The workers throw it away and it falls beside the body of swallow. The angles from the heaven pick both of them to the heaven. Both of them acquire permanent pleasure.

 What is the role of the little Swallow n the story?
The happy prince is not a living prince. He is a statue of the prince fixed on a tall column in the middle of the city. It is the statue of the dead prince with the soul of the prince in it.He is decorated with gold leaves and precious stones. There is a smile on his lips..People call him the happy prince because of this smile. He is a supernatural character, because he can see, hear and speak. Standing on the top of the tall column, he can see the miseries of the people of his city. And at his heart, he is greatly moved .He wanted to help the poor and the needy people but he could as he was fixed at a place. A swallow passed by him and stayed for a night at the feet of the happy prince. The prince requested the little swallow to be his messenger.

The little swallow became the friends of the prince. On the command of the prince, he distributed his god and precious stones among the poor and the needy. Through his messenger he gave away all his wealth.  The prince lost his outer beauty, but got the inner beauty, i.e. the beauty of soul..The little swallow died as the weather became harsher. The heart of the price broke at the death of the little swallow. The swallow and the broken heart of the prince were picked by the angle of the heaven. God Almighty appreciated the right choice of the angle.

Discuss the Happy Prince as a fantasy?

Fantasy is a fairy tale far away from the realistic approach of life. In a fantasy every impossible work becomes possible. But Wilde has blended the fantasy with the bitter realities of Victorian Age. The Victorian age was a critical era of the human history. This era was full of problems such as poverty, hypocrisy and exploitation.

In this context The Happy Prince fulfills all the requirements of the fantasy. In a fantasy the statues can weep, the swallows can help the poor and the needy.
There was a prince who was labeled as happy prince by his friends and followers as he , all the time, remained busy in dancing, singing and  in drinking. When he was alive he did not know what the miseries of the life where. He thought that always was right with the world. he had never seen beyond the walls of his comfortable palace.

 When he died, he was converted into a statue and was fixed in the middle of the city on a high column. Being high, he could see the miseries of the common people. He was so disturbed, that he stated weeping.

A swallow came there and attached with the happy price. The prince requested to give away   gold leaves and precious stone fixed on his body, to the poor and the needy. The little swallow obeyed the prince. Gradually the people became happier, but the statue became uglier outwardly. But at the same time he got inner beauty- the beauty of soul.


The purpose of this fairy tale or fantasy is to criticize the Victorian age. So to speak, the story is a satire on the Victorian age.


Important Points:
1.      The Happy Prince’ is a short story about a prince who lived happily in his palace
2.      The story is a severe criticism on Victorian Age
3.      It is a fantasy story full of ironic remarks and situations
4.      A fantasy is a story for away from the realistic approach of life
5.      Oscar has blended fantasy with the real problems of Victorian age
6.      In English history, the Victorian Age was a problematic era
7.      That age was full of many social and political problems
8.      In that age the rulers were quite callous and unaware of the problems of the common people
9.      The people were biased, hypocrites and flatterer
10.  When the Happy Prince was alive, he did not know of the miseries of the life
11.  After his death , his richly decorated having layers of gold and many precious stones studded statue, was fixed on a high columns in the middle of the city
12.  When he saw the miseries of the common people, he started weeping but being fixed ,he was unable to help them
13.  He requested a migrating swallow to help him distributing all his gold and precious rubies and sapphires among the poor people
14.  Gradually the life standard started improving but statue lost is outward beauty
15.  Swallow died and statue was sent to foundry to be melted ,the workers threw out his laden heart
16.  On God s’ command, the angel of the Heaven picked up the dead swallow and broken heart of the statue and placed them on a high place in Heaven

1 comment: