The Happy Prince book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Oscar Wilde biography, and everything necessary for active class participation.
The Happy Prince is a tale with multiple lessons. On one side it is the criticism of the society that can be cruel and heartless and on the other side, it is about compassion towards human troubles.
The Happy Prince is a contemporary fairytale whose plot is surreal and it is placed into a modern society with real problems. Oscar Wilde tried to state simply the virtues and flaws of a person in all of his fairy tales and tried to criticize society which is insensible.
The main character knew only about nice things and after that, he decided to open his heart to everyone in need. When he helped them he didn't regret the decorations taken down from him and he keeps on doing noble things with the help of a swallow. The swallow was the proof that everyone can do selfless things even though they would maybe be risking their lives. His love and devotion were rewarded with eternal life.
In the fairytale, we can see the prince and the swallow who try to help the ones in need and make them happy while on the other side we can see the powerful people in important positions who do not want to see what is going on in the world. They only see themselves and their goal in life. Oscar Wilde set up a principle of selfishness and selflessness and he took the story to its top when God helped the main heroes of the story.
The language in which the fairy tale was written is simple even though every single word is wisely picked. Oscar Wilde is the one leading the storytelling and introducing the readers into the plot. The whole fairytale is filled with hidden messages and because of that, The Happy Prince is a book you should read with a lot of attention.
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Genre: a contemporary fairytale
Setting: an unnamed city in the north of Europe (a town's square) in fall and winter
Point of view: third-person
Narrator: the narrator is omniscient
Tone: ironic, sad
Theme: a short children's story about a prince and a swallow and their love for helping
The fairytale begins with the description of The Prince who was on a high pole in the city. He was beautiful and had two sapphires instead of his eyes and was covered in gold. He held a sword in his arm and on the handle there was a ruby.
It was hard to walk next to the statue without looking at it. The statue provoked admiration because of the happiness and beauty he was radiating. He seemed like a wish came true.
In the meantime, swallows began their moving and a swallow fell behind and fell in love with a Reed. It was a true love that started in spring and lasted the whole summer. Even though the swallow was being warned that Reed is poor he did not want to abandon him.
When he realized that Reed wasn't like him, Swallow went far away to see the magnificent Pyramids. After a whole day of flying, it began to be dark and the Swallow found a place to sleep. Then he saw the statue of The Prince and settled in between his feet.
At that moment, a drop of water fell on him. It wouldn't be a strange thing if the weather was bad, but it wasn't so the little swallow didn't know where the water came from. He realized that the statue can't protect him so he decided to fly away but then he saw the teary eyes of The Prince.
The little Swallow couldn't quite figure out why The Happy Prince was sad and he explained to him that he did not know about tears when he was alive. The Prince starts to talk about how he saw in an alley a poor seamstress who was making a dress while her ill son was lying in bed. Because they were poor the only help his mother could provide him was some water from the river.
The Prince asked Swallow to take a ruby from his sword and give it to the poor woman. The Swallow said yes and he stayed another night with the Prince. When he came back he confessed that he felt the warmth and the Prince told him that it was because he did a good deed.
The next night Swallow wanted to go to Egypt but the Prince asked him to stay another night. The Swallow told him that he should leave but then Prince told him a story about a hungry boy in an attic. Since he did not have his ruby he told the Swallow to take a sapphire and give it to the boy and the other one to a poor girl.
The Prince was completely blind and the Swallow could not leave him now. Even though it was getting colder and colder he stayed with the Prince and told him stories about Egypt. The Prince asked him to fly over the town and tell him what he would see. After he came back he told him that he saw a lot of poverty. The Prince told him to take a leaf of gold from his body and carry it to the poor.
The Prince looked lifeless and gray and the Swallow died because of the cold. Since the statue lost its beauty they liquated him. His lead heart was turned to liquid so they threw it away with the Swallow. God told his angels to bring him their two favorite things from the city and one angel brought him the heart and the dead bird. God told him that he did well and that the bird will sing while the Prince will be celebrating him.
Characters: Happy Prince, Swallow
The Happy Prince - the main character who was on a high pole. He was so beautiful that he caused admiration for everyone. The children from the orphanage thought that he was an angel and everyone believed that someone so beautiful must be happy. One mother even told her son to be happy just like the beautiful Prince.
The Prince only seemed happy. He was on a high pole and saw all of the misery and poverty of the city. He realized that people were suffering and that they needed help.
The true compassion of the Prince can be seen in the fact that he wanted to help the less fortunate people. His strongest virtue is the fact that he would sacrifice everything to help others. Two different processes started to happen: he became calm and happy inside while on the outside he was getting poorer. People only saw the surface which was gray and sad and nobody saw his real happiness.
The strongest moment is the death of the swallow when Princes' heart broke. It is evidence that love can be so strong that even God himself saw it.
The Swallow - an ordinary stubborn bird. He started to change thanks to the prince. In the beginning, he only listened to the prince because he was curious and afterward he stayed with him because he felt sorry for him.
After every good deed, he felt better. From a superficial bird, he became the Prince's partner in doing good to people. Even though he knew that he would die if he stayed in town he decided to stick with his friend. Love had the last saying in this matter. God rewarded both of them for their good work.
Oscar Wilde (full name: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde) was born on October 16th, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. He was the leader in the aesthetic movement that was based on the principle of art for art's sake.
Educated at the Trinity College in Dublin, Wilde was inundated with the brilliant literary discussions of the time at his mother's Dublin salon. He went on to study at Oxford. There he excelled in the classics, wrote poetry, and turned the Bohemian lifestyle from his youth into a new wave. As an aesthete, Wilde wore his hair long and velvet knee-breeches. He filled his rooms with sunflowers, peacock feathers, and china. He wanted to aspire to the perfection of china. Though ridiculed in periodicals and mocked in the comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, Patience (1891) for his eccentricities, Wilde's brilliance, wit, and flair gathered him a lot of followers.
Wilde was a successful playwright and poet. His poetry was first published in 1881. and led to more successes and lecture tours. He married in 1884 to a wealthy Irish woman and had two sons. Wilde devoted himself to writing exclusively. He wrote some of his most auspicious works during this time, including The Happy Prince, The Picture of Dorian Gray, An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest. A great many of his plays are being performed on the stage and screen to this day.
At the peak of his career, in 1895, Oscar Wilde was embroiled in one of the most sensational trials at the court of the century. Oscar had a close friend and suspected lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Douglas had an abusive father, John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry. He was disgusted by his son's homosexuality and blamed Wilde for his son's depravity. For publicly slandering him, Wilde sued the Marquess. The Marquess retaliated by having Wilde arrested for sodomy.
After a long and salacious trial, Oscar Wilde was accused and convicted of sodomy. Wilde was sentenced to two years of hard labor, and Lord Douglas was forced into exile. Afterward, Wilde was bankrupt and depressed, his writing took a much darker tone. The two reunited after Wilde's release from prison, but didn't stay together. Douglas later took part in several court cases standing against homosexuality.
Oscar Wilde spent the rest of his life in Paris, he wrote under the pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth. He converted to Roman Catholicism. During this time, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a poem about the starkness of life in prison and the desperation of prisoners. Although published anonymously, it is hauntingly beautiful. Wilde died of meningitis on November 30th, 1900.
A brilliant writer, Oscar Wilde was before his time. Although his work was celebrated it lost its eminence with his conviction of homosexuality. In today's world, he would not be as stigmatized, but in Victorian England, he was. How many more glorious plays and poetry would he have graced us with if only he had not been so punished?