What is the conclusion of "The Happy Prince"?

Expert Answers

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

"The Happy Prince" is a short story by Oscar Wilde. It is a children's fantasy story that is like a fable. In the short story genre, the ending or "conclusion" is called the denouement and the resolution. To find the denouement, which simply means the falling action, find the climax, or the high point of the action or point of highest tension. Everything after that point is considered falling action, so you might consider that part the conclusion. The resolution of a story refers to the part of the story in which the conflict is resolved.The climax sets up a decision or action that results in the resolution of the conflict. When you speak of the conclusion of the story, you may mean the resolution of the conflict at or near the story's end. Fables are a specific type of story that feature talking animals and end with a moral. The moral provides a strong conclusion to the fable, often conveying a statement of advice or judgment. 

In "The Happy Prince," the conflict is that the prince--that is, the statue--is not happy because he sees so much suffering in the world that he cannot help. The swallow assists him in his desire to ease the suffering of others. The climax occurs when the swallow dies and the heart of the Happy Prince cracks; both of them have given everything they have to help others. Everything that happens after that, including the bickering and decisions of the Councillors and Mayor, can be considered the conclusion of the story. Specifically, the resolution occurs in the last line, where God grants eternal happiness to the bird and the Happy Prince. If you are considering the story as a fable, then the moral, which is the conclusion of a fable, occurs in the final two paragraphs with the idea that to God the two most precious things in the city are the dead bird and the leaden heart of the Happy Prince. Although it is not stated overtly, the moral is that self-sacrifice to relieve the suffering of others is precious to God and brings eternal joy.  

There are three ways of looking at the conclusion of this story: the denouement, the resolution, or the moral.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

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

The story concludes with the swallow dying at the feet of the Happy Prince. The Happy Prince is also taken down when the Mayor and the Town Councillors decide that he is no longer the beautiful statue he once was. After the Happy Prince is taken down, the Mayor and his Councillors decide that another statue must take his place. However, neither the Mayor nor each of the Councillors can come to an agreement about who the next statue will resemble.

Meanwhile, the town has the Happy Prince melted down, but they discover that his broken, leaden heart will not melt in the furnace. So, the workmen at the foundry discard the leaden heart in a dust-heap, next to the carcass of the dead swallow. The narrator then tells us that when God asks one of his angels to bring Him the two most precious things in the city, the angel brings him the leaden heart and the dead swallow. When he receives the two, God proclaims that the angel has rightly chosen. He then says that the swallow will sing forever in His garden in Paradise, and the Happy Prince will always praise Him in His city of gold.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Are you a teacher? Sign up now