The Happy Prince

Topics: Life imitating art, Fairy tale, Short story Pages: 4 (1441 words) Published: December 22, 2010
this is from the internet, not mine.

Extract from an English student’s learning journal.

Week Five - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
The Decay of Lying (1889, revised 1891) 'The Happy Prince', 'The Nightingale and the Rose', 'The Selfish Giant', 'The Remarkable Rocket' and 'The Devoted Friend' from The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)

My immediate response to these works by Oscar Wilde is that they are charmingly light-hearted, evocative, challenging in content and meaning, and that the Fairy stories, in particular, are a delight to read.

With his fairy stories, Oscar Wilde has fused a traditional literary form with contemporary social issues. His stories use evocative imagery, personified animals and objects and fantastical situations, all in the manner of traditional fairy stories. But Wilde, through both direct and symbolic channels, imbues his works with an acidic bite. Unlike conventional children's' stories, his concern themselves with unrequited love, unnoticed death, and social injustice and several of them end unhappily or at least with a bittersweet tinge to their resolutions. Wilde manages to set up and utilise rhythm in his stories through the repetition of actions or motifs, but then breaks with that rhythm to give the reader the unconventional ending. 'The Devoted Friend' is a good example of this as it deals with the continued and repeated mis-treatment of an individual and ends with his death. The repetition is broken and we are left jaded and in reflective mood.

Wilde is successful in lampooning the institutions of religion and the class system because his comments on them fit in neatly to the narrative of the stories and the language he uses to express his sentiment is economical. In 'The Happy Prince', for example, he says of the town councillors, 'When I last heard of them they were quarrelling still.' Language plays a key role in these stories. The biblical language and references to heaven and God dignify Wilde's project and...
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