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The Happy Prince

07 The Happy Prince

Oscar Wilde’s writing tells the story of a majestic statue of a prince that overlooks the city, adorned in gold leaf and jewels such as sapphires and rubies. Yet, despite his wealth, he’s not happy. He is saddened by the poverty he sees from his perch atop the city.

The story brings out the theme that it is the service of humanity, which brings out the inner beauty. Those who suffer for the sake of others and sacrifice their own interests for welfare of others endear themselves to God. The Prince gave away his precious stones and the gold on his body to poor, needy people and himself became ugly. The Swallow too rendered a great service to humanity. He decided to live with the Prince; it is this service to humanity, which won the pleasure of God for both the Prince and the Swallow.

Meanings of words and phrases

  • gilded: be covered thinly with gold leaf or paint
  • seamstress: a woman who sews to earn a living
  • hilt: the handle of a sword
  • pedestal: the base or support on which a statue is mounted
  • slumber: sleep
  • curious: strange or unusual
  • commission: an instruction to be given to a person
  • garret: the top-floor or attic room
  • mast: a tall upright post, spar, or other structure on a ship or boat, in sailing vessels generally carrying a sail or sails.
  • darted: rushed
  • marvellous : wonderful
  • listlessly: aimlessly
  • archway: a curved structure forming a passage or entrance.
  • snapped: broke with a loud sound
  • dreadfully: extremely
  • frost: chill
  • proclamation: announcement
  • furnace: heater
  • overseer : supervisor
  • foundry: a factory where metal is melted and poured into specially shaped containers to produce objects

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