The Happy Prince Summary by Oscar Wilde

Story of Dead Ruler & a Bird

This is a tale of an unlikely romance between a dead monarch and a hopeful visitor. The dead ruler had lived a life of extravagance and luxury and is now revered in the form of a statue.

However, as a silent witness to the sad affairs of his townsfolk as a statue, he too suffers from their pain. The dead Prince’s massive image is riddled with priceless ornaments. He finds a strange visitor one day, a swallow.

A bird loses its track and ends up separated from its family. It is left alone and wanders off to find the statue. Once it perches on the statue, it notices the pain on the expression of the statue.

Prince’s Regret

The Prince opens up about his comfortable and lavish lifestyle when he was not concerned with the plight of his countrymen. He feels regret and entreats his new friend to help him correct his wrongs.

He suggests to his new friend to look for people in distress. The bird locates young orphans, old women, etc who needed help to survive. The Prince asks his friend to distribute the wealth that his statute is decorated with.

One by one, the statue loses its ornaments and becomes old and ungainly. The bird also suffers from grief after losing track of its family even though it develops feelings for the statue.

Winters Appear

Soon the winter arrives and the lost bird realizes that it would not last the wintry torment. The bird embraces its friend for one last time and drops dead on the floor. The Prince’s heart breaks at the sight of the dead friend.

The next day, the new ruler observes the sad and despicable state of the old Prince and the dead bird near it. He decides to demolish the only memory of the past monarch in order to establish his own legacy.

Statue is Removed

The statue is removed and thrown into the fire. However, the broken heart if the statue remains intact and is dumped with the dead body of its companion. 

The story then takes a leap for the supernatural and God appears on the scene. The divine asks one of the angels to hunt for the most special and valuable thing from the same place.

The envoy evaluates the wealth of the city and ends up bringing the burned heart and the corpse. The divine accepts the assessment of the two things as priceless due to the beauty of the emotions and love shared between the two.