Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet, novelist, author of short stories as well as playwright, and it was his comedies which made him famous. In spite of that, it looks like his works remain only a reflection of his great mind. He was always fascinated by the public – for his work he needed immediate reaction. Probably he was a better storyteller than writer. Nevertheless, Oscar Wilde was a very talented student, with great memory. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin and later on in Oxford.
He decided to go to London to make some money and, especially, become famous.
In order to get respect of the upper classes, he had a perfect plan. Being aware of the fact that it was necessary to entertain or shock people to be noticed, he started to wear extravagant clothes. And this became his image.. Despite the fact that he got married and had two sons, he fell in love with a young, not very talented poet.
As it was illegal to have a homesexual relationship at his time, he was found guilty and sent to prison. As he mentioned later on, there were two important events in his life: going to study to Oxford and being sent to prison.
After being released from prison, he never returned to London. He lost joy to write (he wrote only one ballad and letters) and his health was very poor, too. Eventually he died in Paris, abondened with a smile on his face saying: „I have lived above my circumstaneces and it seems I will die above my circumstances as well. “ Oscar Wilde is well-known for his plays, for example A Woman of No Importance, Salome (French and English version), An Ideal Husband, or The Importance of Being Earnest.
Oscar Wilde was also a great poet, known for his Poems, Ravenna, The Sphinx, or The Ballad of Reading Gaol (his last work written in prison). Nevertheless, the most of his works is prose – for example The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories (novel, which was like a prediction of his future), The Picture of Dorian Gray (very famous novel), De Profundis (a letter to his friend from prison), The Letters of Oscar Wilde (letters written at the end of his life), or the Happy Prince and Other Tales (fairy tales), which are so beautiful that I would like to desribe them more.
The Happy Prince and Other stories is a book of fairy tales which consists of the following stories: The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend, The Remarkable Rocket, The Young King, and The Star-Childe. Despite the fact that the first two fairy tales are Oscar Wilde’s best-known fairy tales, my favourite ones are The Devoted Friend, The Young King, The Star-Childe, and especially The Selfish Giant. In my opinion, these stories are not only naive and sad, but give us also a moral lesson, which makes them a little bit more positive.
The Happy Prince is a fairy tales about a statue of prince that sees all things happening in the city. One day a swallow passes by, he asks her to take some brilliants from his coat and bring them to the poor people who need it. Every day they work together. But as winter approaches, the swallow has no more time to leave and dies as it is already so cold. In consequence, the prince’s heart breakes. The statue already looking ugly is being torn down in the end. As we can see, the world is sad and not even a statue can bear all this sadness. Whoever decides to improve this horrible situation, ends up very badly.
The world around us is superficial and very cruel. Whoever has nothing else to offer is forgotton and taken off. People care only for things that shine. People care for surface, not inner heart. In such world, people with sensitive hearts die, without understanding. The Nightingale and the Rose is a story about a student who longs for dancing with a beautiful girl. She demands a flower for that. The Nightingale sees the student sad and wonders why. After the students explains his situation, the nightingale decides to help the student, but in order to make a flower red it needs to color it with its own blood. And so he bird sings the most beautiful song till the dawn, when the flower gets finally red. For the rose, the nightingale gave up its life.
But when the student appears with the rose, the girl throws the flower away saying she has already a different boyfriend to dance with as he brought her a nice gift. The student walks away – he does not believe in love anymore and returns back to his studies. The Nightigale knew the beauty of life. It was living it every day. Just people are so spoilt, they are so blind that they do not recognize what is important in life – gifts, books, etc. – this is what give a meaning to their empty lives.
The Nightingale knew Love and for Love it gave up its life. People not knowing Love cannot appreciate it though. That sad world is.. (again). The Selfish Giant is a little bit different fairy tale as it also brings a moral lesson. The Selfish Giant lives alone in a beautiful garden. Once he leaves for a visit out of town. After his return he notices children got used to play in his beautiful garden, which is only his. He throws children out of his garden. And winter comes, but it seems it will never go away. It is already sunny everywhere, only his garden is still covered with snow.
He wonders what happened, but one day he hears beautiful music outside. When he looks out, he sees spring has eventually come to his garden, too. He notices the children got into his garden as well. And suddenly he realizes how foolish he has been. He wants to welcome children in his garden and let them come to his garden anytime from now on, but frightened kids run away. Only the smallest boy stays alone in the corner of the garden, where the ground is still covered with snow. The Giant puts the litte boy up into the tree and falls in love with him. But this little boy comes back to his garden nevermore.
Nobody knows where he is from. The Giant is very sad and wonders every day why the boy never appears again. One winter day he sees him eventually in his garden. It is very strange because he stands in the same corner, but this time under the tree full of blossoms. The Giant runs to the little boy and aks why his hands are wounded and the little boy answers these are the wounds of love. His last words are: „You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise. “ In my opinion, this is a very impresssive story as it works with a picture of Christ.
It also contains Christ’s words and legacy. It shows us how to live, it shows us how to love – it tells us what love it, it even gives us hope that Paradise exists and, moreover, it shows us how to get there. All good deads are not lost. Good deads and love just open the door to the universal (never-ending) love. The purest love is to give and not to expect – just enjoy the love from giving. The message is so pure and clear that it needs no other explanation. I think there can’t be a better, nicer ending, as this is the nicest end of all ends. The Devoted Friend is a fairy tale with a moral message, again.
It desribes a relationship between little Hans, who lives in a garden with beautiful flowers, and a Miller, who declares to be a friend of Hans, but he just stops by when he needs some flowers. All winter long Hans does not have his flowers and for that reason even a source of income, but the Miller never stops by – he explains his wife, who admires him, that people when feeling bad should be left alone. Once the Miller decides to help Hans and give him his old wheelbarrow as a present. Afterwards, the Miller starts to ask Hans to do different kinds of work saying that friends should help each other.
Hans feel obliged to help the Miller, which brings Hans his death eventually. I think this story is very important for several reasons. First, it is a psychological analysis – it desribes different kinds of characters and shows consequences of certain actions. While Hans is a nice boy who believes in good nature of people, the Miller is a selfish man who uses everybody around him for his own benefit. A good man ends up badly while a bad man lives on without any harm. Second, the story has a philosophical aspect. While Hans follows his feeling, the Miller follows his reason.
Philosophers may contemplate about the proportion of feeling and reason needed for healty life. Third, it brings us a moral message, again. It is actually Hans’s fault that he ends up so badly. If he could say no to the Miller, he could live on. If we let ourselves be used and manipulated, other people will do so. Fourth, the story shows us a relationship between the exploiter and the exploitee, so we may actually capture functioning in the capitalistic world. The Remarkable Rocket is a story about a rocket that thinks it is very special, despite the opinion of the surroungings.
It should be used for the king’s wedding, but it not even fired in the end. The Rocket ends up in mudd, still persuaded about its importance. After meeting with a Frog, the rocket still believes it is very important and nobody understands it. In the end, some people find it and throw it in the rubbish. In this fairy tale, we can see different kinds of characters, again: the Rocket, the Cathrine Wheel, the Roman Candle, the Crackers, the Bengal Lights. Let us look how they quarrel over Romance, for example: „But love is not fashionable any more, the poets killed it. They wrote so much about it that nobody believed them, and I am not surprised.
True love suffers, and is silent. Romance is a thing of the past. “ „Romance never dies. It is like the moon, and lives for ever. “ As we can see, Oscar Wilde is a master in comparisons and metaphores. Oscar Wilde is a very good psychologist, too (thanks to his fine eye), but now I would like to mention a different aspect that is very typical for his work. The Rocket is a representative of hypocrytical society. There are many examples of hypocrytical behaviour in this story. Of course, Oscar Wilde makes fun of it. The problem occurs when the Rocket meets the Frog – the same people meet.
The Rocket sees itself like in a mirror, but it does not change anything about its behaviour. Let us look at some excellent perceptions and remarks (on this topic as well as others): „Arguments are extremely vulgar, for in good society everybody holds the same opinions. “ „If you say the same thing over and over a great many times, it becomes true in the end. “ „Travel improves the mind wonderfully, and does away with all one’s prejudices. “ Oscar Wilde is well-known for his citations, which are included in his works. Sometimes he offeres us even definitions – for example the definition of imagination, which we can find in this story as well: Why, anybody can have common sense, provided that they have no imagination.
But I have imagination, for I never think of things as they really are – I always think of them as being quite different. “ Another fairy tale is called The Young King. The Young King appears to be back in the palace after his mother’s death. He grows up in the country where he was sent as a little boy as his mother had him with a foreigner of not acceptable position. Being the only child, he is brought back to become a king. He loves beauty so much. But later on has three dreams which reveal him the truth about being a true king.
He refuses all jewellery for his coronation, but people do not want to accept him being a king without showing wealth. In the end, lights from the windows „sew“ him the nicest dress of all. And he is forgiven and accepted as a true king. In this fairy tale, I appreciate the importance of our dreams. Dreams give us answers to our questions many times. The future king has seen the lives of poor people working for him and so he feels responsible for them. He wants to be a good king in his heart, on the other hand he loves beauty so much, too.
He fights this contradiction in his dreams. But in the end he follows his inner voice and gives up all unnecessary things to become a true king. The last fairy tale is called The Star-Child. It is a fairy tale about a little boy that is found left alone in the woods. He is covered in an expensive cloth, but nobody is found around him. So one good man decides to take him home despite the fact that he already has a big family. As the little boy grows up, he becomes very beautiful, but also very proud. Not knowing his parents, he believes they must be very special.
Once a very ugly lady comes along and stares at him. Suddenly she says he is her son – she has travelled all the world to find him. But the little boy is so disappointed and sad that he refuses her saying he cannot be her son. At once, his appearance changes. Everybody laughs at him and so he decides to travel round the world to find his mother and apologize to her. He can’t find her anywhere, but while travelling he becomes a better man. After a lot of suffering, he gets into the city where his parents live and finds out his parents are the king and the queen and he is the future king.
I find this story very impressive. It shows us that only through suffering we become good people, moreover, at the end of our road we are crowned kings, which is a parallel to Jesus, again. A difficult road through life brings us eventually the biggest reward, which we have not even dreamt about. Outer beauty is here to confuse us while inner beauty is the one that matters. Oscar Wilde became a symbol of sensitivity, knowledge and humour. And I am happy his extravagant clothes enabled him to become famous and capture his excellent ideas.