Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 830
The Blue Bird
The title character is elusive; it is the source of happiness, which the children search for. In act three, readers learn that there are other blue birds, but they perish in sunlight. The children capture some and try to escape with them, thinking that they have found the happiness they need, but when they fall within the realm of Light, the birds die. Tyltyl questions,
Oh, this is too bad? . . . Who killed them? . . . I am too unhappy!
In the end, the children awake to find that the Blue Bird they found so elusive was in their home the entire time. It brings magical healing to their neighbor's sick daughter and then escapes. The play ends with a call for all of us to be on the lookout for the Blue Bird of Happiness. It is a call to appreciate the wealth of opportunity in life, regardless of circumstances or station.
The brother in this quest is a bit more adventurous than his sister. Although their journey seems to be an imagined dream, both siblings magically dream together and remember their collective journey when they awake. The power of family and shared life contexts are thus reinforced.
Tyltyl is not afraid to face death in act five. He is faithful to following the quest for happiness. He is changed by seeing the Joy of Maternal Love and never wants to leave her. It is Tyltyl who calls for action at the end of the play, asking the audience to instigate a personal journey toward happiness, which can be elusive in the Light of reality.
The younger sister follows the lead of her brother. She is along for the adventure, but she is more passive in the quest. She is more fearful, asking several times to just go home when confronted with challenges. When facing Night, she begs,
I am frightened! . . . Where is Sugar? . . . I want to go home!
Mytyl represents the natural tendencies humans have to shrink from difficulty, which presents a near impossibility in achieving the eventual happiness which could await them.
The Neighbor/Berylune the Fairy
The fairy first comes to present the challenge of finding the Blue Bird of Happiness to the children. She provides a magical hat that allows them to see the souls of all living things and hear the voices of any object. Although she provides the tools they need, she cannot accompany them on the journey, reinforcing the fact that a path toward happiness and fulfillment is a deeply personal one; many individual battles must be waged along the way. Tools for success will be provided, but it becomes one's own responsibility to use the tools to achieve success. At the end of the play, the fairy is transformed into the neighbor with a sick daughter, and she indirectly reveals that happiness has existed in their home all along. Tyltyl shares his happiness (symbolically represented through his blue bird) with his neighbor's daughter, who is miraculously healed. The character of the neighbor thus shows the transformative powers of kindness and joy when bestowed upon those in need.
Dog remains loyal to the children. He protects them in a comical way and is endearing in his efforts:
I want to go with the little god! . . . I want to talk to him all the time!
When the animals of the forest try to assault Tyltyl, the dog breaks free of the bondage the other animals have forced upon him to save his "little god":
Here! Here, my little god! . . . Don't be afraid! Have at them! . . . I know how to use my teeth! . . . Here, there's one for you, Bear, in your fat hams! . . . Now then, who wants some more? . . . Here, that's for the Pig and that's for the Horse and that's for the Bull's tail! . . . There, I've torn the Beech's trousers and the Oak's petticoat! . . . The Fir-tree's making tracks! . . . Whew, it's warm work!
Not as loyal as Dog, Cat doesn't want to end this magical journey and give up the abilities the animals and others have been given, so she convinces the other participants to try to thwart their efforts:
Listen to me! . . . All of us here present, Animals, Things and Elements, possess a soul which man does not yet know. That is why we retain a remnant of independence; but, if he finds the Blue Bird, he will know all, he will see all and we shall be completely at his mercy. . . . This is what I have just learned from my old friend, Night, who is also the guardian of the mysteries of Life. . . . It is to our interest, therefore, at all costs to prevent the finding of that bird, even if we have to go so far as to endanger the lives of the children themselves.
The contrasting personalities of Cat and Dog engage the reader throughout the play. Even Cat's final comment to the children is very catty:
I love you both as much as you deserve.