“‘he rose is finished now,’ but the Nightingale made not answer, for she was lying dead in the long grass, with the thorn in her heart” (Wilde 4). This is a passage from the famous fairy tale The Nightingale and the Rose, by Oscar Wilde, an Irish writer. The story is mainly about a nightingale paying her life to create a red rose for a student’s love, but the red rose ends up useless and the student does not believe in love anymore. The author uses great diction to describe the nightingale’s pain through her sacrifice; he develops the character and creates irony to show the negative aspects of sacrifice. In addition, through the author’s use of diction and irony, as well as character development, “The Nightingale and the Rose” reveals the negative aspects of sacrifice in a materialistic society.
In the story, the author’s use of diction greatly shows the nightingale’s sacrifice to love. Before the nightingale decides to sacrifice, she says “Yet love is better than life, and what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man” (Wilde 2). From the nightingale’s words, her dedication to love is shown movingly, because she thinks that the student’s love is important than her heart. Then she starts to create the red rose, and she plunges the thorn into her chest closer and closer “So the Nightingale pressed closer against the thorn, and the thorn touched her heart, and a fierce pang of pain shot through her” (Wilde 2). The author’s word choice deeply shows the nightingale’s pain when creating the rose. Although the pain is so bitter, the nightingale endure the pain and continues “Bitter, bitter was the pain, and wilder and wilder grew her song, for she sang of the Love that is perfected by Death, of the Love that dies not in the tomb” (Wilde 2). From these sentences, the pain for the nightingale’s sacrifice is shown incisively. It also shows that the nightingale still thinks of love at the end of her life, and she sacrifices her whole life to love. The author uses great diction to show the pain and the nightingale’s thoughts, so that the nightingale’s sacrifice is better revealed. Thus, the nightingale’s sacrifice is better shown through the author’s use of diction.
Through the character’s development, the story better states the theme of sacrifice in a materialistic society. The main character, a student, is looking for a red rose to give to his lover. He is weeping for love, so the nightingale says “Here at last is a true lover” (Wilde 1) and decides to help him. However, when he gives his lover the red rose that the nightingale pays her life to creates, the materialistic girl refuses his love. He feels so angry that he does not believe in love anymore “What a silly thing love is” (Wilde 4). Before creating the rose, the nightingale thinks “love is wiser than philosophy, though he is wise”(Wilde 2), but in the end, the student decides “I shall go back to Philosophy and study Metaphysics” (Wilde 4). This ironic changing shows that the nightingale’s sacrifice has no positive effect, and the change of the student’s view of love shows that the sacrifice is useless in the materialistic society. Therefore, the author’s development of the character helps to reveal the negative aspects of sacrifice.
From the author’s use of irony in the story, the negative aspects of sacrifice are shown in a materialistic society. The red rose, which is created painfully, is a symbol of the nightingale’s sacrifice “Death is a great price to pay for a red rose” (Wilde 2). When the nightingale sings her last song, the student thinks “She would not sacrifice herself for others” (Wilde 3), but ironically, the nightingale just decides to pay her life for the student’s love. The nightingale creates a wonderful rose, but the student is so ignorant, he describes the symbol of the nightingale’s sacrifice and love as “It is so beautiful that I am sure it has a long Latin name” (Wilde 4), because “he only knew the things that are written down in books” (Wilde 3). Precious the rose is, but finally, “he threw the rose onto the street, where it fell into the gutter, and a cart-wheel went over it” (Wilde 4). This irony indicates that the nightingale’s sacrifice ends up useless in this materialistic society. The negative aspects of the nightingale’s sacrifice are ironically shown, so it is clear that the author’s use of irony helps to develop the theme.
In the fairy tale The nightingale and the Rose, Wilde uses great diction to describe the nightingale’s sacrifice, and he better creates irony through the development of the character. Therefore, it is clear that Wilde reveals the negative aspects of sacrifice in the materialistic society through his use of diction, character development, and irony. “he threw the rose onto the street, where it fell into the gutter, and a cartwheel went over it” (Wilde 4).