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

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The main theme of Oscar Wilde's short story "The Nightingale and the Rose" explores the effects of self-sacrifice in the name of what one truly believes in.

In this story, the nightingale is a bird who hears an Oxford student cry for the want of a lady, who is apparently his "true love". The woman in question had requested specifically a red rose from the love-stricken man as a token of true devotion. Only with the flower will the lady respond to the man's request for love.

The nightingale, who is a believer in true and eternal love finds that there are no red roses in the garden. However, a true believer at last, he pinches his own heart against the thorn of a white rose and turns it red with its own blood. This, the nightingale does to reinstate his faith in love and his true believe that love shall always prevail.

We find out in the end that all is worthless. The lady rejects the rose and the Oxford lad realizes that it was all caprice on his part. The bird, however, is still dead. However, the story shows us that no sacrifice is too small when one does it with a true mission in mind. However, the story is (as many works in Wilde's tradition) open-ended: Was it worth it, after all? Who actually wins in an ultimate demonstration of true faith? Does the nightingale die in vain? These are the ultimate questions that are subtlety laid to the reader, and it is the reader who will have the final say after all.

ruonramirez's profile pic

ruonramirez | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Sub theme :

1. Love is money
2. Love need sacrifice.
3. Truth/reality sometimes can make us disappointed.

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