Literature is an old and varied sphere of human life, full of forms and methods. Tales are one of the oldest genres in literature. Their appeared either from an impossibility to describe certain things using direct meanings or from a wish to explain certain morals and values transferred to the animal characters. Fairy tale is a literary genre intended for a young readership, and the events described involve magic. Fables are short stories using animal characters and explaining some moral aspects of human lives. There are multiple theories describing the origins of fairy tales, for example, the ones connected with association of these genres with earlier literary forms like myths or referring to the common sources like Indian tales (Kready). Both theories may be applied to the history of European literature. As for fables, they derive from the times of Ancient Greece and Persia (Brian 3). Both genres include some magical elements, but characters of fairy tales are mostly human beings. The readership also differs: educational feature of fables might make it difficult for children to grasp. However, it must be said that distinguishing between these genres is not an easy task, for the boundaries of genres are not clear. Their main function is to give explanation and examples of abstract notions and deeds through entertaining narratives. We read them since early childhood and obtain our first understanding of good and bad from these simple stories. Fairy tales and fables mostly have authors; that is why the personal style of the writer is felt in every piece of literature. Oscar Wilde’s stories are refined and elegant as well as the rest of his creations. However, the general common features of tales are preserved in his narratives. The need to compare two tales - The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and The Rose – by this author is explained by the wish to explore his writing techniques, peculiar style and repeated themes.
It goes without saying that there are a lot of similar features in the works of any author. Oscar Wilde, no matter how various and original he may be, is definitely not an exception from this rule. Thus, both tales deal with human personages as well as animals and plants. According to the conventional genre, animals speak human language and can understand each other and the elements of the surrounding world. They have a lot of human features and even have genders, which can be explained by the love plot lines present in both pieces of literature. In such a way, Swallow is a he and Reed is a she, as well as Nightingale. Mystical and magical elements are also common in two tales. Happy Prince is a human turned into a statue after his death, and the white rose can turn red as if by a miracle if blood from the heart of the singing bird paints it that way. Oscar Wilde is strangely attracted to mentioning different kinds of jewels in these two tales. In The Nightingale and The Rose girl is not impressed by the flower which was gained with much suffering and sacrifice, of which she knew nothing, and prefers a more solid “manifestation of love” – gems. In The Happy Prince the main character, giving the name to the tale, is decorated with jewelry and gold. Comical references are also an important part of any tales: they make the story attractive to children who do not want to be bombarded with morals only. Comic feature is revealed in an unexpected, abrupt ending of The Nightingale and The Rose and, for example, in the fact that thinking makes the Swallow drowsy.
From the linguistic point of view, the style of Oscar Wilde is felt in the vocabulary of both tales. Oscar Wilde, as usual, resorts to all kinds of literary devices in order to make his narration as expressive as the rest of his works, for example, comparisons with bright images. The role of them in the text might be defined as making the story form closer to the unauthorized tales, turning it almost to folklore type. Folklore likeness is also achieved through the use of repetitions. In The Nightingale and The Rose the bird tries to find a red flower, asks the same questions in various places and gets answers complying with a certain pattern. In a similar way, in The Happy Prince Swallow tries to fly away for several times and tells the same story about the wonderful places he is going to spend the winter in.
Opposite features of the tales are not so numerous, but also present. Thus, The Happy Prince is longer, and, in such a way, this narrative can reveal more issues. For example, children can learn more reading about Egypt and its beauty spots from this tale, when the other story does not have such an informative background. The love plots are also different: when in The Nightingale and The Rose affection of the bird remains till the last drop of blood from the heart, Swallow in The Happy Prince finds a new love after unhappy attempts to win attention of Reed. The latter also has a religious reference at the end, which makes the moralistic and impressive force even stronger.
The morals conveyed should be discussed separately, as they are the most important elements of the narration. True values are described in both tales. In both of them kindness and love are presented as the supreme goals. Gold, jewelry and money are depicted as negative phenomena that can never become the main things in life. The young reader might learn how to live in the world with sympathy to problems of the others, and also find out the ways to help people. Both The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and The Rose present role models still topical in the 21st century.
Brilliant master of a word Oscar Wilde is loved by many because of his elegant uniqueness. His two tales The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and The Rose are examples of his variety in style and genre. They completely agree with the literary rules for tales, have a lot of common features and a strong moralistic power. Two tales may be called stories that should be read by all children in order for them to understand the world correctly.
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