The Happy Prince Themes by Oscar Wilde


The central theme of the story is affection. The affection that the Prince feels for his people is taken forward by the Swallow. The affection between Swallow and the Prince develops into a full-blown romance.

Even though the Swallow wants to leave the place, it is bound by this love and the growing warmth toward the needy people of the city. It also has a brief love spell with a colorful Reed, a misadventure that ends in heartbreak. Though platonic in nature there love is romanticized in the story.


The central object of the story is the statue of Prince which is bejeweled and decorated with the most expensive of objects. This wealth is equated with happiness but is a form of shallow and deceitful existence.

The Prince himself feels appalled at the state of the poor in his city. The story is full of examples where a person is suffering at the hands of the greed of rich and entitled people like young girls or old seamstress.

For people in abject poverty, even gemstones are not as valuable as ration or food. Beauty in itself is valued differently by people in different circumstances. The statue itself is discarded once it loses its gems, a sign of the importance that is put on the appearance of beauty.


The story juxtaposes the lavish wealth of the kings with the abject poverty of the subjects. It highlights the sheer difference in the quality of life and opportunities to improve them between the privileged and the unfortunate.

The portrayal of the masses as victims of the greed of the rich is contrasted with the arrogance of the rich to turn a blind eye to the scarcity of the poor. The decorated statue of the Prince is contrasted with the broken leaden heart inside of it.


There is a clear reference to the religious figures like Jesus Christ in the portrayal of Prince who suffers to ease the pain of others. The values of charity and altruism are expounded through his character.

Also, there is an element of idol worship with statue beings the objects of reverence. There is a reference to Jewish money arguing over money also.

In the end, there is an introduction to God and his angel who is sent to the city to collect valuable artifacts. There is an appreciation of Christianity on one hand whereas the critique of others.