Saturday, 5 May 2012

When Kindness Goes Unnoticed (Part 1)

Among those in his era, Oscar Wilde was perhaps the most frank. His sentences are strong, clear, and simple, yet show his deep thoughts on the subject of life. This thing is true even in his short stories for children. These stories, although simple, always touch the hearts of the readers due to their sad and somewhat annoying ending. I'd like to focus on two of those stories, where kindness has been the theme sounded along the storylines: The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose. What I'd like to underline is how kindness and people's reaction to it described in these stories.

Motive of Kindness

“And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot chose but weep.” - The Happy Prince
The kindness that the main characters in the story show is unconditional, pure-hearted kindness, full of good intentions towards the subjects of kindness. The Happy Prince was moved by the sufferings he saw in the city, the Nightingale by the 'love' he saw in the scholar. Both of them felt sorry for people they knew little (if not nothing) about, and they expressed it in most noble way, giving what they have for them.
The Swallow in the Happy Prince story, however, although kind, showed kindness for a different motive. He didn't do it for the sake of the people at first, feeling that people had never done him any good anyway. But he liked and admired the Prince for his kindness, and felt that by doing so he helped the Prince to do what he wants. But as he did so, he found the work so satisfying.


“Death is a great price to pay for a red rose.. Yet Love is better than Life, and what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?” - The Nightingale and the Rose
All three of them sacrificed their best for people. That is kindness. They didn't do kindness because they had leisure times. In fact, the Swallow needed to migrate to Egypt when the Prince asked him to stay. They didn't do it using their “leftovers”, something they didn't need any longer. They did the best that they could.
The Nightingale gave her best song and her life to help the scholar.  She had sympathy for the scholar and book initiative to help him.The same thing goes with Happy Prince. He saw the sufferings of the people and sympathized them. Thus, he took initiative to help them; he gave them his precious belongings.What about the swallow? He sacrificed his journey to the south to help the prince, and later, to keep him company. The Prince had told him to go, but he stayed. It's an act of kindness towards the blind Prince.

The Reward

And what's the result of being kind? What do you get when you show kindness towards people? In both of the stories, the 'good guys died, miserably. Nobody cared about them anymore. The ending is so tragic I couldn't cry. Is there nothing, then, they could get from doing kindness?
"It is curious," he remarked, "but I feel quite warm now, although it is so cold."
"That is because you have done a good action," said the Prince. - The Happy Prince
Whether the Swallow realised it or not, he felt 'warm' for doing good. He felt the satisfaction and joy for doing good. The same thing applies to the Nightingale and the Prince. In both of the stories we do not see any regret in those three characters, even though they died at the end.

But what about the persons the helped? I'll focus on that subject in the next article.


  1. Although I'm not a fan of children tales, but The Happy Prince of Oscar Wilde did touched me quite deep.

  2. Yup, that's right. I was enraged when I read the Happy Prince for the first time. Then I read the Nightingale and the Rose. I asked my cousin to read them too (he's 16 y.o) and he cried.