"The Happy Prince" critical Summary with Analysis as a fantasy
Critically Analyse and summarize the fantastic and fairy tale mode of expression in "The Happy Prince"
Critical Analysis and summary: "The Happy Prince" has a fairy tale mode of expression; fantasy. It was employed to bring to light the problems of the Victorian age: poverty, hypocrisy and exploitation that plagued the cities of that era. The main theme is "but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and women" i.e. the author would love to show us the suffering humanity so that we could understand and resolve their issues. The writer makes us aware of these problems in a fantastic way because the story was written "to mirror modern life in a form remote from reality", says Oscar Wilde.
It may not seem much fantastic that the statue of the dead prince is placed on a tall column of the city. The statue is covered with layers of gold. For eyes, it has blue sapphires. It has a sword hilt decorated with a big ruby. It may also not seem strange that a swallow is in love with a reed. Yes! a reed that can neither fly nor does it have the power to speak. The weather is getting cooler and the swallow has to leave else he dies. The swallow wants the reed to be with it but none can help. With a heavy heart, the swallow leaves the reed and hails towards a warmer country. Passing over the city, the swallow sees the statue and deems it a good place to spend the night.
Strange is the aloofness of common folk towards the sufferings of fellow humans though, for the sake of argument, we may tend to take it as a routine here. Yet it becomes quite strange and fantastic when the swallow is drenched with the tears of the statue. It is indeed fantastic that a statue can weep. Alas! It is even more fantastic as well as shameful that the same pain, poverty, misery and ugliness which could not stir the feelings of concern for living beings, makes the statue to weep. The statue tells the swallow of stories of pain, hunger and poverty. The statue requests the sparrow to tear off the golden leaves from its metallic body and distribute it to the poor. It cannot bear the suffering of the needy. The statue tells the swallow that his "leaden heart" cries at the sight of human sufferings.
Doesn't it seem fantastic, unrealistic, that man should ignore the pain of the suffering and the needy? A prince, named the Happy Prince, tells that while he was alive and was a real prince, his palace was surrounded by a "lofty wall". He "enjoyed", "danced", "drank" and "had fun". He never cared for the people beyond that lofty wall. The same misery and pangs which made the statue to cry, those could not move the heart of the ruling elite. Though this is quite strange and unbelievable yet it is the fact of the human world. This is callousness that we don't expect from humans.
While the whole ruling elite has turned deaf to the cries of the suffering humanity, the swallow pays heed to the requests of the statue. What the elite could not do easily, the swallow does by risking his life in the extreme cold. The statue gives away all its apparent beauty revealing the hidden ugliness of human character. The swallow loses its life due to excessive cold. Then God shows its mercy and grace on the body of the dead swallow and the leaden heart of the statue. All this is fantastic.