The Unhappy Prince

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Prince from Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" once again sees the reality of the world. But this time, he sees more than the poor.

Submitted: April 18, 2018

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Submitted: April 18, 2018

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 As they passed the column he looked up at the statue: ‘Dear me! how shabby the Happy Prince looks!’ he said.

‘How shabby indeed!’ cried the Town Councillors, who always agreed with the Mayor, and they went up to look at it.

‘The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer,’ said the Mayor; ‘in fact, he is little better than a beggar!’

‘Little better than a beggar’ said the Town councillors.

‘And here is actually a dead bird at his feet!’ continued the Mayor. ‘We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed to die here.’

So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. ‘As he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful,’ said the Art Professor at the University.

 

The souls of the Prince and the Swallow flew over their earthly bodies.

“I’m no longer useful,” the Prince said to the Swallow.

“That is not true,” the Swallow replied.

“My only value was in my precious gemstones and golden body. Now, I have nothing. I cannot even help the poor anymore. The villagers no longer want me.”

The Swallow had no response to the Prince’s claims. The two continued to watch as the Prince’s body hit the earth with a loud thud.

 

The villagers took the statue away, and with nothing to do, the two wandered the town.

Everywhere they went, they saw the homeless, the needy, and the poor. Some were sheltered in their cardboard boxes outside. Others were in the crumbled buildings they called home, vulnerable to the winter air.

“Look at these people, Swallow,” the Prince said. “They are all calling out for someone to save them, but no one is paying any attention.”

“You saw them,” the Swallow replied. “You reached out and helped them. I’m sure they are grateful for that.”

“But now, I cannot do anything for them,” the Prince mourned. “My earthly body is melted down, and I have nothing of value to give to them. I cannot even give them words of comfort.”

The Swallow had no response for the Prince’s claims, because they were all true.

 

As night approached, they saw the town hall light up. Curious, the two approached the building.

There was a ball in honor of the new statue. The nobles and the wealthy of the town were gathering for the event. Everyone was wearing their most expensive formal wear. There were enough colors to paint the world and enough jewels to match them. The aroma of luxurious food was drifting through the town.

The Prince looked in horror at the people.

“Look at these people,” the Prince told the Swallow. “People are starving and freezing in this winter, and they are turning a blind eye to them! The statue is not of great importance; they just want an excuse to get drunk and be merry!”

“It has always been that way,” the Swallow replied. “The wealthy can spend their wealth however they want to because it belongs to them, or so they think. If they wish to squander their gold in such manner, they have every right to do so.”

“This is not right!” the Prince exclaimed.

“Right or wrong, it is their choice.”

“They wish to starve the poor while they get fat from the taxes and labor that they don’t deserve? This world is a mess!”

The Swallow had no response for the Prince’s claims, because once again, they were all true.

 

The Prince, frustrated, left the ball and flew to the tall column, where he once used to stand. He stood there watching the town, just as he did when he still had an earthly body. The Swallow, sensing the Prince’s anger, stood further away from him than usual.

“Tell me, Swallow. Was I wrong to give up my possessions to the poor?”

The Prince’s eyes looked full of sadness. If he still had his body, the Swallow was sure that the Prince would once again be shedding tears for the town.

“You were not wrong,” the Swallow replied after a while. “You were truly noble and gracious to give up yourself for them. They are the ones who are in the wrong.”

“I wish I could still help them somehow,” the Prince sighed. “But I have nothing to give. I cannot even show them my smile, like I used to.”

‘What a strange thing!’ said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. ‘This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.’ So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also lying.

 

And when the leaden heart of the Prince landed, it shattered into pieces. And went with it the Prince’s compassion and hope for the town.

 

“Oh, Swallow, if only I could get rid of the nobles and all their wealth. Then the poor of the town could have what they need. The evil nobles should perish in the winter, just as the poor have done in their negligence.”

The Swallow looked in shock to the Prince’s cold words.

“If only I could cleanse the world of wealth. Then the world would find peace. The poor would eat and the homeless would have a home. Those who have nothing would finally be able to dream a bigger dream.”

“Are you saying that you are willing to kill the nobles?” the Swallow asked.

The Prince’s eyes was no longer filled with compassion for the people; it was filled with hatred for the nobles and the wealthy.

“If that’s what it takes, then I am.


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