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The Nightingale And The Rose Essay

4196 words - 17 pages

0202 / ‫مجلة ديالى‬

‫العدد الرابع و االربعون‬

The Bird as a Sacrificial Hero in Oscar Wilde’s “The Nightingale and the Rose” and “The Happy Prince”


Heroism and sacrifice are not new concepts; they can be traced back to the early days of human life. These concepts developed throughout history as a result of the development of human thought. In literature, the idea of heroism appears on a large scale. It has been dealt with by different writers in different periods. As far as terminology is concerned, the terms of heroism and sacrifice are interchangeable. The hero must be a ...view middle of the document...

It was published in 1888 with some other short stories. The romantic story revolves around the theme of sacrifice and presents the nightingale as a sacrificial hero who sacrifices his life to make true love last forever. The story is about a young student who holds true love towards a girl who is obsessed with material things. Her obsession leads love to end tragically, as Barbara Seward puts it, “this kind of love is oppressed by the materialism of the human beings.”1 Wilde in this story delineates the nightingale as his tragic hero. He, in fact, feels that man started to lose the heroic deeds which used to be attributed to him only. One reason behind

0202 / ‫مجلة ديالى‬

‫العدد الرابع و االربعون‬

choosing this bird is perhaps Wilde’s belief that man was dehumanized in a materialistic age, and hence he is no longer capable of achieving moral and human deeds. Thus, the use of the bird shows the spontaneity and kindness that man lacked which made him unable to do heroic deeds. Moreover, Oscar Wilde, through this story, wants to show us the difference between the human beings who do not care for the value of true love and this bird to which love means a lot to the extent that it sacrifices itself just to make that love prevail. Unfortunately, this sacrifice was not appreciated by the human characters in the story. The bird wanted to help the student by bringing a red rose to his girl and in exchange she would dance with him in the ball held by the prince, as the student says, “she said that she would dance with me if I brought her a red rose”2 (p, 27) The bird overhears the student from its nest and joyfully observes, “Here at last is a true lover” (p, 28). From this event onward the bird decides to help the student fulfill his dream. The bird believed in true love and was ready to die for it, as Robert Welch states “The Nightingale sacrifices her [nightingale] life to create the rose that will give love to the student… Our Nightingale is able to die in exchange for eternal love.”3 This amiable creature describes love as a blessed feeling all over the universe saying:

0202 / ‫مجلة ديالى‬

‫العدد الرابع و االربعون‬

Surely love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates can not buy it, nor is it set forth in the market place. It may not be purchased of the merchants, nor can it be weighed out in the balance for gold. (p. 29)

This definition of true love sets the discrepancy of the bird’s world of love, emotion and sacrifice, and man’s world of materialism, opportunism and aversion. Moreover, the bird is presented as the true lover of the story. The Nightingale felt sympathy for the student who became sick of love “but passion has made his face like pale ivory, and sorrow has set her seal upon his brow.”(p.28) Therefore, the bird decides to help the student whatever this might cost it. This sympathy on the part of the bird is so determined and resolute to...

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