The Nightingale and the Rose

by Oscar Wilde

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Is the nightingale's sacrifice in "The Nightingale and the Rose" unnecessary?

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In The Nightingale and The Rose, the nightingale sacrifices her life for the student that she hears from the window. The student is upset because he wants to ask a girl to a dance and she desires a red rose. However, the student doesn’t have any red roses in his garden, meaning he wouldn’t be able to invite the “love of his life.” The nightingale takes it upon herself to produce a red rose for this student, and sacrifices her own well-being to create this red rose. It is unfortunate this should happen, though, because as soon as the student finds the rose and brings it to his “love,” she rejects him because someone else had brought her some real jewels which “cost far more than flowers.” Because of this materialistic view of the world, the nightingale’s sacrifice could be treated as unnecessary. Even though she made the biggest sacrifice she could (her own life), the outcome is still the same (whether or not the student goes to the dance with the professor’s daughter). The existence of the red rose does not change the course of the student’s life as the nightingale had hoped it would.

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In "The Nightingale and the Rose," it can be argued that the nightingale's sacrifice was unnecessary because the red rose (which she dies for) does not bring about the student's happiness. At the beginning of the story, for example, the girl tells the student that she will dance with him if he brings her a red rose. Having fallen in love, the student dedicates himself to this pursuit. By the end of the story, however, the girl has completely changed her mind about the student because she has met the Chamberlain's rich nephew and he has won her over by giving her some jewels as a gift. The need for the rose is, thus, negated because the girl has already found another boy to dance with.

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