The Blue Bird Themes
Maurice Maeterlinck’s play “The Blue Bird” follows two children as they learn contentment and how to find the true joys in life. At Christmastime, the children are marveling at the beautiful decorations and delicious looking treats at the house of a wealthy neighbor. Soon, however, they experience the embodiments of various luxuries and joys, and through their observations, they begin to understand the true meaning of happiness.
When watching the extravagant feast in the nearby house, the fairy Berylune asks the children if they’re jealous, because it is wrong for the wealthy not to share their cakes with them. The children reply that they’re not envious of what the rich neighbors have. To Tyltyl, it is simply joyful to see another person enjoying happiness, and their wealth does not inspire jealousy in him.
At one point, the children see the physical embodiments of various luxuries and joys. The luxuries are actually hideous and try to hide in the shadows. The hideous nature of the luxuries represents their impurity: extravagance is useless and is the opposite of contentment and true happiness. After that, the children see the embodiment of several small joys, such as seeing the stars. This helps the children later take joy in simple events and makes them more observant and caring.
The moral of this story is that being content and enjoying the simple, beautiful things in life will bring about true happiness and joy. The wealth and extravagance don’t bring any additional benefit or joy. It is this lesson that the children take away, and they enjoy their lives after the events of the play more deeply.
Themes and Meanings
For the people of Lorraine, a blue bird symbolizes happiness, and The Blue Bird is a play about happiness—not pleasure based on material things, but a more meaningful spiritual joy. In the opening scene, the two children gleefully describe the beautiful decorations and rich desserts that they see in the house of a wealthy family nearby. When Bérylune says that it is wrong for the rich not to share their cakes with Tyltyl and Mytyl, the boy corrects her. It is enough that he gets to watch others’ happiness; their joy does not create envy in him. The theme is emphasized again when the children meet the Luxuries, particularly the biggest one of all, the Luxury of Being Rich. When Tyltyl turns the diamond, the hall is bathed with a dazzling brightness, and the Luxuries run wildly in search of a dark corner where they may hide their ugliness from the ethereal light. The names of such Happinesses as Innocent Thoughts and Seeing the Stars Rise and of such Joys as Being Good and Maternal Love affirm Maurice Maeterlinck’s view that true happiness lies in simple things, particularly in the warmth of family love.
At the end of the play, Tyltyl shows what he has learned about happiness. He looks out the window at the forest and remarks how beautiful it is. The inside of the house looks much lovelier to him than it did before. Also, he creates great...
(The entire section is 781 words.)