Literature & Life

The Happy Prince is a short story written by Oscar Wilde. This story brings out the importance of charity. This is a beautiful story of a dead prince and a swallow. The prince when he was alive lived in a palace of Sans Soucy which translates to the palace of no worries. The prince also lived the same way, he never had worries in his life. He lived his life so merrily and that is the reason why, he was called as the happy prince. His palace was surrounded by tall walls and he never could see beyond those tall walls nor he ever cared about the world beyond those walls. Every day his friends from royal lineage would come to his palace and enjoy every second of their lives by merrymaking, dancing and drinking. This is how the prince lived and the same way died and after his death, a tall statue of him, on a tall tower was built in his memory.

The statue was the most beautiful piece of art. It was covered with gold leaves, there was a bright red ruby on his sword hilt and two precious sapphires were there in his eyes. Everyone was amazed by the beauty of the statue of the happy prince. One day a swallow came over the town and sat on the happy prince’s statue. The swallow was travelling to Egypt because he cannot persuade his lady love to travel with him but unfortunately, it was too dark for him to travel so he decided to rest on the statue. When he was taking rest, a drop of water hit on his head. He got confused initially but ultimately, he found that the statue of the happy prince was crying but he couldn’t understand that why would a statue cry? So, he asked the statue that why was he crying the statue replied that he lived a very happy life but he could never see the pain and sufferings of the poor people while he was alive but now as he was standing on a tall tower he could see all the misery in his kingdom and he felt such guilt for that as he was no more alive and he couldn’t do anything for them… but suddenly the statue realized that he could use swallow’s assistance to help the poor people in his kingdom.

The swallow felt pity for the prince and agreed to help him as the messenger…. The statue told the swallow that he could see a seamstress far away working late night and beside her there was a cot on which her son was lying ill who had a terrible fever and he was asking for oranges to his mother but the poor lady had no money so she was giving just water to her son. The statue asked the swallow to go over there and give her the precious ruby from his sword hilt so that she could buy oranges for her son. The swallow took the ruby and flew to her house and finally, he dropped the ruby on a table beside her and returned.

It was winter therefore it was too cold for the swallow to live in such weather hence he wanted to travel to Egypt but still stayed there for that night because of the request of the happy prince. The swallow decided to fly to Egypt the next day in the evening. The next evening before taking leave; the happy prince again requested him to stay for one more night as he saw far away, a poor young writer who was leaning over the desk as he was unable to complete his work because of the hunger and cold and there was no fire in his grate in that chilled night… It was also difficult for the swallow to live in such an environment but still, he stays there to help the prince and the poor writer. The prince asked the swallow to pluck out one of the rare sapphires from his eyes and give it to the young man so that he could sell it to the jeweller and buy food and firewood and finish his work. The swallow did so and dropped the sapphire in the young writers Garrett.

The next day evening, the prince again requested the swallow to stay for one more night, as he could see a poor match girl crying on the streets, as she had dropped by mistake all her matchboxes in the gutter and she was very afraid because her father was going to beat her for that. The circumstances were getting very difficult for the swallow because of the winter but still, he stayed there. The prince asked him to pluck out the remaining sapphire from his eye but the swallow was not ready to do that as it would make the prince completely blind but the prince forced him to do so and hence the swallow had no other option but to pluck out the remaining sapphire from his eye. Hence, the swallow plucked the prince’s remaining eye and gave it to the match girl. Later on, as the prince became blind… therefore, the swallow decided to stay with him for the rest of his life. The prince next evening told the swallow to fly over his city and see if someone needed any help. So, the swallow flew over the city and found two little hungry homeless boys shivering from cold, lying under the archway of a bridge. The swallow returned to the prince and told him what he saw.

The happy prince commanded him to rip off all the gold from his body and give it to the poor boys. The swallow heavy-heartedly pulled off all the gold from the prince’s body, leaf by leaf. The statue of the prince looked no more beautiful! It looked very dull and grey. The swallow gave all the gold to the homeless boys and returned. The winter was getting colder and colder… first came the snow and later on the frost. The swallow couldn’t bear such a cold environment. He came to know that he was going to die. He said his final goodbye to the prince and then died. Suddenly, the heart of the statue (Happy Prince) cracked. Therefore, later on, the statue was pulled off from the tower as it looked no more beautiful… and was sent to the foundry but the prince’s cracked lead heart wasn’t melting there so it was thrown in the garbage where there laid the body of the dead swallow. 

From heaven, God sent an angel to earth to bring the two most precious things from that city and the angel chose the dead swallow and the cracked heart of the happy prince. God got pleased with the angel’s selection and sent both the happy prince and the swallow to the heavens.

Jogan More

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