What are some literary devices in The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Happy Prince was first published in May 1888. It is the story of a swallow that makes friends with the Happy Prince. The Happy Prince is a golden statue that stands in town. Everyone thinks he is happy because he has a smile on his face. Oscar Wilde describes him as "He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold; for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword/hilt." The Happy Prince was a beautiful thing to look at.

The little swallow was going to join his other swallows in Egypt, but decided to spend the night with the Happy Prince. The Happy Prince then gets the little bird to help him help the poor. The literary devices that Oscar Wilde uses are quite apparent. He wanted the reader to realize the injustices that were happening to the underprivileged. He weaves a heartbreaking story of how people assume, just because something is beautiful to look at and because it may have a smile on its face, you never know what is really going inside someone. The Happy Prince sacrifices all that he has to help the poor and needy of the city. The little swallow sacrifices his own life, to stay with the Happy Prince, because he loved him and wouldn't leave him alone. They both end up dying for love. At the end of the story they are both taken to Heaven, where their sacrifices are rewarded forever.

Oscar Wilde uses his literary devices in such a clever and simple way, yet once you read the story, you are left questioning actions and reactions to things. That is what the literary devices used within the story is trying to teach us. Oscar Wilde makes one think about how their lives are being lived. This is what makes a master of literary devices.