How does Oscar Wilde use a figurative writing style in ''The Nightingale and the Rose"?  

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is also worth noting a few other stylistic devices employed by Oscar Wilde in this short story.

There are a number of similes, for example, like "passion has made his face like pale ivory," which are used to evoke strong images in the reader's mind. In this particular example, the colour ivory is contrasted with passion, a feeling we often associate with deep red. This contrast is further reinforced with another simile later on which describes the colour of the white roses: "as white as the foam of the sea."

Wilde also uses an oxymoron to juxtapose the concepts of love and death. This appears in the phrase: "Love that is perfected by Death" and is oxymoronic because love is a human emotion which cannot survive beyond death. But, in using this oxymoron, Wilde emphasises the strength of the nightingale's love for the student. For her, love is everlasting and unconditional and this contrasts sharply with the superficial love depicted through the character of the young girl.

Finally, Wilde uses foreshadowing to hint at the sacrifice the nightingale will make and to help the reader to understand the logic behind her decision. This appears in the line:

What is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oscar Wilde uses a myriad of literary techniques in "The Nightingale and the Rose" because the purpose of this specific literary work was to produce an allegorical prose which can relate the topic of altruistic and sacrificial love.

Some of the literary techniques that you can encounter in the short story are: Metaphor, since the blood of the nightingale being poured over the white rose symbolically colored the rose red.  Another figure of speech is paradox, since the way that the nightingale was betrayed by the lover for whom he sacrificed his life. Another technique we see is obviously personification in the characteristics that the nightingale portrays, since it is given human and emotional qualities although it is a bird.

Hope it helps a bit!