Name some of the figures of speech in "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde.

Expert Answers

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

Figures of speech enhance a piece of literature by using words in ways that go beyond their literal meaning.

Wilde uses euphemism in "The Happy Prince." Euphemism means putting something harsh into softer or more pleasant words. We learn that when the swallow arrives at the writer's poor attic room through a hole in the roof, he finds the writer

sitting with his head in his hands ...

This gives us a visual image of how the writer looks, but having your head in your hands is also a euphemism for despair. The starving writer is in a state of feeling hopeless and unable to go on, but Wilde describes this demeanor more gently.

When the swallow gives the hungry children gold from the statue of the Happy Prince to buy food, they say,

We have bread now!

"Bread" is a synecdoche. A synecdoche is a figure of speech where the part stands for whole. When the children say they have bread, what they really mean is food.

Wilde uses simile when the important man states that the statue "looks like a beggar." Simile...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 608 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
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team