Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest "celebrities" of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.
His most famous works are: “Lady Windermere's Fan”, “An Ideal Husband”, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and the collections “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” and “A House of Pomegranates”.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales (also sometimes called The Happy Prince and Other Stories) is collection of stories for children by Oscar Wilde. It is most famous for The Happy Prince, the short tale of a metal statue who befriends a migratory bird. Together, they bring happiness to others, in life as well as in death.
The stories included in this collection are: The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend and The Remarkable Rocket.
The Happy Prince
The protagonist of the story is a gilt and decorated statue of a prince, who stands on a tall column overlooking a city. A swallow, rather proud and flighty, and who has delayed his migration to Egypt for the love of a reed, rests on the statue's plinth, only to be disturbed by a falling tear from the statue above. The statue is that of the Happy Prince, high above the city and covered with gold, as a statue he can now view all the sadness, misery and ugliness of the human world. The Prince weeps at the injustices he can now observe, having been isolated from the realities of his society while he was alive.
Citation (page 6)
“When I was alive and had a human heart,” answered the
statue, “I did not know what tears were, for I lived in the Palace of Sans-Souci, where sorrow is not allowed to enter.