Explain the relationship between the Swallow and other characters in "The Happy Prince."

The relationships between the Swallow and other characters in “The Happy Prince” range from initially superficial and tenuous to deep and solid. The Swallow shares a seemingly casual friendship with other Swallows and a flirtatious yet incompatible marriage with the Reed. Ultimately, though, the Swallow forges a caring, close, and strong bond with the Happy Prince. Through his loyal relationship with the Happy Prince, the Swallow develops compassion for others.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince,” the Swallow initially shares superficial relationships with other characters; through the course of the short story, however, the bird develops a deeper, more meaningful bond with the Happy Prince.

With his peers—other Swallows—he remains removed and ultimately becomes a bit of an object of their ridicule. Instead of travelling with these friends to Egypt, he stays behind to court a lovely Reed with whom he is smitten. The other Swallows tease him for his romantic nature, twittering that the Reed “is a ridiculous attachment...she has no money, and far too many relations” and is just one of many Reeds. Instead of trying to talk any sense into the Swallow, they all fly away and abandon him.

With the Reed, the Swallow shares a flirtatious and superficial relationship that develops into a short-lived marriage of mis-matched types. Attracted by her beauty and “slender waist,” the Swallow employs lekking behavior—showy displays of...

(The entire section contains 765 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on