How do you think that "The Happy Prince" is a representation of the Victorian age in which the writer lived?

"The Happy Prince" represents the wide gap between the rich and poor in the Victorian age, as well as the unawareness of suffering in which many of the rich lived. It also expresses the Victorian idea that sentimentality, which is deep feeling, would motivate people to help the poor once they became aware of their suffering.

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In "The Happy Prince ," a prince is so sheltered from any awareness of the poverty in which his subjects live that he has a happy and carefree life. After death, however, he is turned into a gold-plated statue with jeweled eyes and placed in the center of the...

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In "The Happy Prince," a prince is so sheltered from any awareness of the poverty in which his subjects live that he has a happy and carefree life. After death, however, he is turned into a gold-plated statue with jeweled eyes and placed in the center of the city. Now he sees the poverty that was hidden from him in life and is anguished over it.

The prince's state accurately describes how many of the wealthy lived in the Victorian age—removed from reality with little or no awareness of the suffering of the poor. It also depicts a pre-welfare state society like Victorian England, in which only the most minimal and inadequate safety net kept people from suffering.

Also, like many Victorians, once he realizes the vast gulf between rich and poor, the prince's heart is touched, and he uses his wealth (the gold and jewels encrusting him) to enact charity, in his case through the Swallow.

This shows, as Wilde writes in his essay "The Soul of Man Under Socialism," that good-hearted people, once they became aware of the poor, "seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see in poverty."

This is a children's story, and the Happy Prince does react sentimentally—with strong emotion—to the sufferings he has become aware of. Sentimentality is deeply associated with the Victorians, who believed that raising people's emotions so that they would feel empathy for others would motivate action and alleviate social ills.

Wilde did not think private charity was adequate. He thought the social system had to change to alleviate poverty, but like a good Victorian, he applauds the prince's depth of feeling and his many acts of stop-gap givings as much-needed good deeds.

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Like much of Oscar Wilde's writing, "The Happy Prince" both represents and critiques the Victorian era. The adult society of the city are continually satirized as unimaginative, hypocritical, corrupt, self-serving, and pretentious, vices Wilde thought particularly characteristic of the repressive Victorian era. The philistine town councillor who wants to be regarded as an aesthete, the "sensible" mother who reproves her child by saying that "The Happy Prince never dreams of crying for anything" (and who is proved spectacularly wrong on the next page, when the Swallow is drenched with the Prince's tears), the Mathematical Master who does not approve of children dreaming, the beautiful lady-in-waiting whose life seems to consist entirely of parties but who reproaches her overworked seamstress with idleness: these are all exemplars of the typically Victorian vices.

The victims of this callous society, apart from the Happy Prince and the Swallow, are all children: the boy dying of a fever, the little match-girl (an echo of Hans Andersen), and the boys sleeping under a bridge. Wilde here displays a typically Victorian sentimentality about children and childhood, regarding the children as the wisest and most moral human characters in the tale.

Finally, the story ends with a typically Victorian expression of ambivalence about religious faith. There is a God in Wilde's story, but he is a singularly impotent God. In the last sentence, he appears to grant a rather conventional and unimaginative eternal life to the two protagonists, but he does not change anything in the corrupt city—he is simply able to appreciate the Swallow and Prince and understand their sacrifice in a way that none of the human characters could. This reflects the waning of Victorian belief (as well as Wilde's personal belief) in a personal God who might bring justice to human affairs.

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Agreed- the shallowness of the Victorian middle and upper classes, their eternal rat-race for social progress, the elitism, materialism, and snobbery typical of the "polite Victorian society" radically clashed against its idealistic and hypocritical attempts at religiosness, prudeness, and charity. 

All the virtues that Victorians aimed to preach fell on their own deaf ears, and extravagance clearly took center stage against charity, elitism and snobbery took the place of tolerance, and so on.

This Prince is trying to make up for his people's and his society's flaws. He now understands the sadness of the needy, and the true scheme of things. He even develops a heart and suffers the human experience of death. No longer is he a shallow, jewel-studded artifice of the upper classes. He is now making his life worth living.

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Is it possible that the sense of loss and the gloomy mood might lend itself to this age?  The tale is a cross between nurturing instruction cautioning the reader against selfiishness or some other vice (typical of the Victorian Era) and realism since the tales often end unhappily.  Of course, this could also be attributed to Wilde's own life...an emotional roller coaster with an immense period of shame (the trial and his imprisonment).

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