The Romantic defeat

prince 2

Do you remember those bedtime stories your parents used to read you ? Those stories where good always won over evil and made you slip into a peaceful and satisfied nap? I guess you do, so you have well understood that Oscar Wilde‘s collection The Happy Prince and the other tales does not belong to this cathegory. The rhythm is that of fairy tales, just like the characters which come mostly from the world of magic or fantastic: giants, speaking animals or statues…but the end……..the end  is shocking. It seems that Oscar Wilde wrote these stories for his children, but how, HOW could a little baby sleep after hearing that, for example, the rose for which the brave nightingale had sacrified her life had been thrown into the street, “where it fell into the gutter” and just like it wasn’t enough  “a cart-wheel went over it”? I coudn’t, for sure. The prevailing sense sadness that overwhelms you at the end of the stories is given by the unexpected harsh realism of the  real world that replaces abruplty the pampered world of magic. Wilde didn’t want to reassure his kids at all, he wanted them to see life as it was: happy ending is never for granted in a world where men are corrupted by material values and deaf to sensibility.In other words in these stories there is the defeat of the Romantic ideals. The Happy Prince is a statue placed “on a tall column”, so that now can be aware of the poverty and suffering of that world he had never seen before. He wants to do something to relieve those people of their pains, so with the help of a swallow, which seems to have missed the last “train” to Egypt he will give away all the precious stones and leaves of gold that cover his body to whoever he sees in need. But when winter comes the helpful swallow dies and the statue seems to have become ugly and shabby at the eyes of the people who count in town:”as he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful”. So they decide to pull it down. They are unaware and shallow .They cannot see that behind the ugliness of the statue there is the real beauty of his sacrifice. There is love. The deserved reward doesn’t belong to this world, in fact the dead body of the bird and the leaden heart of the Prince will be brought to God because they are the most precious things in the city. Only in the other world they will be recompensed. Maybe.


4 thoughts on “The Romantic defeat

  1. But like I wrote in the mail I sent to you, teacher, love is not for everyone. Love, like every other great thing or feeling, is not for everyone. I mean, it is not simple to reach it, just after suffering, just after the incredible pain felt by the nightingale, or the help given by the swallow to the Happy Prince, we could reach love or the other great things I’m talking about. But, I underline “COULD”. Yeah, even after aaaall that pain and aaaall that suffering, not everyone could really understand love. Like the student: he will not really understand love (in fact he did not really even feel pain..). But I won’t repeat it, it is enough to read the “fairy”. And even if we arrive to understand it, completely, really, we would be alone. Yep. Let’s summarize a little: you think you are in love? But you do not want to bear too much pain to reach it? Ok, you will not understand it. You think you are in love? And you want to bear pain to reach it?? Cool! But then you throw all away? Oh, then you will not understand it. You think you are in love? You are ready to feel pain to reach the real essence of love? And then you will not throw all away? Fine, you will understand it. But, now you are kind of the only one who really understand it. Then you feel alone. Ooooh and there it is, other pain and loneliness. Like Oscar Wilde. We cannot say he was a happy guy with a lot of friends. BUT! There is the question! To reach the essence of great feelings of life, we have to suffer. A lot. And then, even after reaching it, other pain. Well it does not seem really cool. But if we do not even try to reach it, we accept the mediocrity of all the other people. And I assure you, mediocrity is nooot really cool (returning to the “feeling safe” told in a lot of other posts..). So, it is better to feel safe or suffer, and suffer, and suffer again, but reaching great feelings and their essence? Well it depends on ourselves. I have a kind of idea about what is better, but I cannot tell I have suffered a lot or that I have reached the great essence of feelings hahaha it would be hypocrite. But I want to underline it: great things, in every background, context, like great feelings, or even great music, or every other thing, big or little they are, are NOT for everyone. Otherwise they would not be great things. They would be lousy.

      • Well the Nightigale wants to help the student because she really understands love and she believes that the student is a true lover, so she sacrifices herself because “what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?” it not?

  2. Maybe I’m truly too romantic, but i think that the pain too is a great feeling and makes people grow up more beautiful. Sometimes i find myself crying and suffering but thinking (in that very moment) that is useful. Sometimes people is like the Wedding Guest or the doughter of the professor (just an exemple hahahaha) : shallow. As soon as I am concerned the nightingale express this concept at the beginning of the story: pain makes the student more beautiful like the pain of the nightinagle makes more beautiful the red rose.The student’s knowledge and wisdom does not make the same ‘love is wiser than Philosophy, though she is wise, and mightier than Power, though he is mighty’.
    But for me the student is shallow too: he does not understand the nightinagle’s compassion, and does not note her death and her absence; does not hear her painy song during the night and does not comprehend her good news. The only character that is willing to love with all her heart and life is the nightinagle and her beloved thinks also that she can not have feelings. This is what happens in love.. Many times people who are loved so much are blinded, maybe by too much love. It is a sad story, but this is it.

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