The Nightingale And The Rose Summary

What is the summary of "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde?

In "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde, a young man has feelings for a girl who promises to dance with him at a ball, should he bring her a red rose. The boy is upset because he doesn't have any red roses, and a Nightingale overhears. The nightingale desperately tries to find a red rose, but she cannot. Eventually, she sacrifices her life, using her blood to stain a white rose red, but her sacrifice is in vain.

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The story is about the poignance and beauty of making a sacrifice even if it is wasted.

In this story, a male student, who spends his time in his books, falls in love with a young woman. She says she will dance with him at the ball the next night if he brings her a red rose. He looks all over for a red rose, but none are to be found, which distresses him.

The Nightingale, a romantic and creative creature who loves to sing, is deeply moved by the student's plight and wishes to help him out. She flies all over seeking a red rose, but like the student, has difficulties. When she finally finds a red rose tree, it is damaged by the cold weather. This rose tree tells her the only way to grow a new red rose is for the Nightingale to sacrifice herself. She must pierce herself on one of the rose's thorns so that her blood can flow into the plant and color the rose red.

Although agonized at the choice, the Nightingale does this. She dies in pain but singing a beautiful song. The student then finds the stunning red rose. He offers it to his beloved, but she turns from it in shallow disdain, as it doesn't match her dress and as another student has offered her jewels. Embittered about love, the student casts the rose aside and returns to his books.

At heart, this story is about the sacrifice the artist makes to bring beauty to the world, only to have it despised and cast away by people unable to understand its cost or worth.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 14, 2021
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A Student has received a promise from his beloved. She will dance with him at the Prince's ball if he will only bring her a red rose. But there are no red roses anywhere, and the Student mourns his fate. He is overheard by a Nightingale who often sings of love, and she pities this Student and his breaking heart.

The Nightingale exclaims about the preciousness of Love as the Student continues his lament. The other creatures in the garden, the Green Lizard, the Butterfly, and the Daisy, do not understand why the Student weeps. The Lizard even thinks the whole matter ridiculous, but the Nightingale flies off in search of a red rose.

She asks two Rose-trees, but their roses are white and yellow. When she finally finds a Rose-tree that grows red roses, the Tree tells her that it has no roses to give, for it has been damaged by the frost and storm. The Nightingale asks if there is any way for it to grow another red rose, and the Tree tells her that there is, but she must sacrifice herself. A thorn must pierce her heart, and she must give the Tree her very blood.

The Nightingale faces a difficult decision. Her life is a high price to pay for a rose, but she is willing. She sings to the Student and tells him to be happy and to be a true lover. The Student cannot understand her, for he knows nothing but what he has read in his books. In fact, he ironically thinks the singing bird is all about mere form and style, that she is selfish like all artists and cannot "do any practical good."

The Nightingale returns to the Rose-tree and begins to sing as she allows the thorn to pierce her breast. A rose blooms, but it is not yet red. As more and more of the bird's blood flows into the Tree, the rose becomes a beautiful crimson. Finally, the bird sings one final "burst of music" and falls dead.

In the morning, the Student discovers the rose and takes it to his beloved. She, however, is not impressed. The rose will not match her dress, and it is not nearly as valuable as the jewels another suitor has promised her. She breaks her promise, and the Student throws the red rose into the street and returns to his books, turning his back on love.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 14, 2021
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In this story, a young man, a student, is told by a woman that she would dance with him at the ball the next night if he brought her a red rose. However, he has no red roses, and is vocalizing his despair when a nightingale hears him. The nightingale is touched by the soul of this student, and desires strongly to help him. The bird flies around trying to find a red rose at various rose bushes, but none are red. He finallly pierces his heart on a thorn to bleed onto a white rose, making it a brilliant red rose, and in the process dies. The student finds the rose and is thrilled, so he plucks it and brings it to his love interest. The girl rejects the rose saying it won't match her dress; plus, someone else has brought her jewelry, which is much better. Angry, the student walks away and throws the rose in the gutter where it is run over by a cart. He decides that love is ridiculous and logic is better, goes home and reads a book.

I have provided a link to the story below; it isn't very long and very beautifully written. I suggest you read it if you haven't already, and I hope this helped!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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