Christina Rossetti

Start Free Trial

Can you summarize "Nick" by Christina Rossetti?

Quick answer:

"Nick" by Christina Rossetti tells the story of a man living near Fairyland who, despite having everything, is envious and unhappy. A fairy grants him the ability to transform into whatever he wishes, leading to a series of misadventures where his transformations cause more harm to himself than others. Eventually, he wishes to be himself again, repairs the damage he caused, and never wishes for anything again, highlighting the theme of contentment.

Expert Answers

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

Nick lives in a small village near Fairyland. He seems to have everything that anyone could want, but his sour disposition makes him envious of his neighbors. One day, when he is wishing he could be a flock of sparrows or a blight to destroy his neighbor's cherry trees, a fairy tells him that, from this time onward, he will become whatever he wishes to be.

Nick turns into a flock of sparrows and attacks the cherries, but his neighbor shoots all the sparrows but one. A cat attacks the sparrow, and Nick wishes he were a dog and attacks the cat. He then leaps at the cat's owner, who cries out: "Mad dog!" This brings out the villagers in pursuit of Nick. They chase after him with bludgeons, and he wishes that he were the stick of the one of the villagers who is running at the front of the pack, since this stick is about to hit him.

Nick becomes the stick, the stick breaks, and the villager takes the pieces home and throws them on the fire. Nick is angry that not only is he burning, but he is providing warmth and comfort for others in the process. He wishes he were the fire, so that he could burn down the cottage, but when he does so, neighbors come with water and reduce him to a small, smoldering flame.

Nick reflects that he has done more harm to himself than to anyone else and decides that his next wish will not be malevolent. He wishes to be a rich old man who lives nearby. However, that night, while lying in his bed, robbers break into the old man's house and murder him. Nick, however, is able to wish to be himself again and frightens the robbers away by apparently returning to life. He makes his way home and, the next day, repairs the harm he has done to all his neighbors. No one ever hears him wish for anything again.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial