Symbolism is the use of symbols to show ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meaning. Basically, it is an object representing another to give it an entirely different meaning that is much deeper and more significant. For instance, “smile” is a symbol of friendship. Similarly, the action of someone smiling at you may stand as a symbol of the feeling of affection which that person has for you. Symbols do shift their meanings depending on the context they are used in. “A chain”, for example, may stand for “union” as well as “imprisonment”. So, symbolic meaning of an object or an action is understood by when, where and how it is used and it is user dependent.
Symbolism is a literary form that is favored by Wilde and it is widely implied in the Happy Prince. So much so, that some of the character itself are symbols such as the swallow. The swallow as seen in the story, have a meeting with its colony in Egypt but it choose to remain with the prince and help him fulfill his wishes until the Prince is satisfied. This depicts that the swallow is a symbol for loyalty and friendship.
The prince lead heart is a form of symbol as well. As learned in the story when all the body parts of the happy prince is melt is heart remain attached. As in, the heart cannot be melted because it is made out of lead. In the symbolic context this is to subtly send the message of immortality to the readers which in one way can be viewed as when one sacrifices their own wealth and happiness for others, they become immortal and this is the symbolism behind the lead heart of the prince that does not melt. In conclusion, the lead heart can never be melted because the Prince is forever immortal.
Other than that, the townspeople are a symbol of repression. Repression is the psychological act of excluding desires and impulses from one's consciousness. This symbol is used to show the misuse of power and also to represent a form of