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What is the summary of "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde?

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eureka | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 15, 2009 at 11:42 AM via web

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What is the summary of "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 15, 2009 at 12:52 PM (Answer #1)

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In this story, a young man, a student, is told by a woman that she would dance with him at the ball the next night if he brought her a red rose.  However, he has no red roses, and is vocalizing his despair when a nightingale hears him.  The nightingale is touched by the soul of this student, and desires strongly to help him.  The bird flies around trying to find a red rose at various rose bushes, but none are red.  He finallly pierces his heart on a thorn to bleed onto a white rose, making it a brilliant red rose, and in the process dies.  The student finds the rose and is thrilled, so he plucks it and brings it to his love interest.  The girl rejects the rose saying it won't match her dress; plus, someone else has brought her jewelry, which is much better.  Angry, the student walks away and throws the rose in the gutter where it is run over by a cart.  He decides that love is ridiculous and logic is better, goes home and reads a book.

I have provided a link to the story below; it isn't very long and very beautifully written.  I suggest you read it if you haven't already, and I hope this helped!

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rudck | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 4, 2011 at 3:54 AM (Answer #2)

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  • Summary

“The Nightingale and the Rose” is a story in which the first character that appears is a Student. This boy is sad because a girl promised to dance with him on condition that he brought her red roses, but he did not find any red rose; there were white roses and yellow roses, but he could not find red roses. While he was moaning because her love would not dance with him, four characters from nature started to talk about him. A little Green Lizard, a Butterfly and a Daisy asked why he was weeping, and the Nightingale said that he was weeping for a red rose. The first three characters said that weeping for a red rose was ridiculous. The Nightingale, who understood the Student, started to fly until she saw a Rose-tree. She told him to give her a red rose, and she promised, in exchange, to sing her sweetest song, but the Rose-tree told her that his roses were white, and he send the Nightingale to his brother that grew round the old sun-dial. The Nightingale went to see this new Rose-tree, and after promising the same in exchange for a red rose, the Rose-tree told her that his roses were yellow, but he send the Nightingale to his brother, who grew beneath the Student's window, so the Nightingale went there, and when she arrived, she asked the Rose-tree to give her a red rose. The Rose-tree said that his roses were red, but that the winter had chilled his veins and the frost had nipped his buds, so he could not give her a red rose. The Rose-tree gave her a solution: he told her that if she wanted a red rose, she had to build it out of music by moonlight and stain it with her own heart's blood. She had to sing to the Rose-tree with her breast against a thorn; the thorn would pierce her heart and her life-blood would flow into the Rose-tree veins. The Nightingale said that death was a great price to pay for a red rose, but at the end, she accepted. The Nightingale went to see the Student and told him that he would have his red rose, that it was her who was going to build it up with her own blood; the only thing she asked him for in return was to being a true lover. Although the Student looked at her, he could not understand anything because he only understood the things that were written down in books. But the Oak-tree understood and became sad because he was fond of the Nightingale, and asked her to sing the last song and when she finished, the Student thought that the Nightingale had form, but no feeling. At night, the Nightingale went to the Rose-tree and set her breast against the thorn. She sang all night long. She pressed closer and closer against the thorn until the thorn finally touched her heart and she felt a fierce pang of pain. The more the rose got the red colour, the fainter the Nightingale's voice became, and after beating her wings, she died. The rose was finished, but she could not see it. The next morning, the Student saw the wonderful rose under his window. He took it and went to see the girl and offered her the rose, but she just say that the rose would not go with her dress and that the Chamberlain's nephew had sent her real jewels and that everybody knew that jewels cost far more than flowers. After arguing with her, the Student threw the rose into a gutter, where a cart-wheel went into it, and he said that Love was a silly thing and that he preferred Logic and Philosophy.

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vennaveiro | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2012 at 8:28 PM (Answer #3)

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A young Student is infatuated by the daughter of a Professor. She promises to dance with him till dawn at the Prince's ball if the Student will bring her a red rose. But in his garden there are no red roses. The Nightingale, who night after night romantically sings of such love as she believes she now sees demonstrated, is moved to provide the red rose so as to facilitate the love between the Student and the young woman. Whereas the Prince in the previous story had spoken of the Mystery of Misery, the Nightingale here is struck by "the mystery of Love". Following the typical pattern of threes, she goes to three rose trees asking for a red rose. The first bares only white roses, the second only yellow ones. The third is indeed a red rose tree, but because of a harsh winter cannot bare any roses. The Tree tells her: "If you want a red rose you must build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with your own heart's blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn. All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your life-blood must flow into my veins, and become mine." She would inevitably die as a result, an arrow piercing her heart. This is precisely what happened, but the student finally obtained his rose. Sadly his romantic intentions remained unfulfilled; having presented the rose to his beloved, he discovered to his cost that she was more interested in material things such as jewellery. How could he expect to win her love with a mere rose! The student threw it into the street, where it was crushed by the wheels of a cart. Meanwhile the student gave up his suit altogether and consoled himself with a dusty book of metaphysics.

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