The Fisherman and His Soul

by

Oscar Wilde

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After the Witch has told The Fisherman how to send away his soul so that he can be with the Mermaid, the Soul becomes a character in his own right. When the Soul first begins to speak to the Fisherman, it is to beg the Fisherman not to send him away. When the Fisherman refuses and insists on separating himself from his Soul, his Soul than implores the Fisherman to at least not send him away without a heart. This the Fisherman also refuses. Nonetheless, the Soul is hopeful that he will one day be rejoined with his master and insists that on returning to see the Fisherman at the end of each year. When he does so, he attempts to convince the Fisherman to leave the Mermaid by tempting him with wisdom and riches. When he eventually succeeds, and the Fisherman agrees to temporarily reunite with him, the Soul instructs the Fisherman to commit cruel acts, including murder. In this way, the reader learns that, having travelled around the world without a heart, the Soul has become “an evil soul.” Up until the end of the story, the Soul is desperate to be permanently reunited with the Fisherman, and continually tries tempt him with good and evil deeds alike. Although the Soul ultimately does manage to re-enter the Fisherman’s heart, this only occurs in the few moments before the Fisherman drowns, shortly after his heart has broken following the death of the Mermaid.

The Soul Quotes in The Fisherman and His Soul

The The Fisherman and His Soul quotes below are all either spoken by The Soul or refer to The Soul. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Power of Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The Fisherman and His Soul published in 2012.
The Fisherman and His Soul Quotes

"Of what use is my soul to me? I cannot see lt. I may not touch it. I do not know it. Surely I will send it away from me, and much gladness shall be mine."

Related Characters: The Fisherman (speaker), The Soul, The Mermaid
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Now when the young Fisherman heard the words of his Soul, he remembered that the little Mermaid had no feet and could not dance. And a great desire came over him, and he said to himself, "It is but a day's journey, and I can return to my love," and he laughed, and stood up in the shallow water, and strode towards the shore.

Related Characters: The Fisherman (speaker), The Soul, The Mermaid
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

“When thou didst send me forth into the world thou gavest me no heart, so I learned to do all these things and love them.”

Related Characters: The Soul (speaker), The Fisherman
Related Symbols: The Heart
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Fisherman and His Soul LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Fisherman and His Soul PDF

The Soul Character Timeline in The Fisherman and His Soul

The timeline below shows where the character The Soul appears in The Fisherman and His Soul. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Fisherman and His Soul
The Power of Love Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and the Soul Theme Icon
The Fisherman now makes his way toward the shore while his Soul calls out to him. At first the Soul begs the Fisherman not to send him... (full context)
The Power of Love Theme Icon
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
The Soul returns a year later and calls the Fisherman to the shore. The Soul recounts his... (full context)
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
At the end of the third year, the Soul returns and describes an inn where a girl dances in her bare feet, telling the... (full context)
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
The Fisherman and his Soul set out together and two days later come to a city. Although it’s not the... (full context)
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
Transformation and the Doppelganger Theme Icon
The Fisherman asks the Soul why he told him to murder the merchant, saying “Surely thou art evil.” Again the... (full context)
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
Transformation and the Doppelganger Theme Icon
...that he will bind his hands and close his lips so that he cannot do the Soul ’s bidding or speak his words. He also expresses his desperate desire to be reunited... (full context)
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
Eventually, realizing that the Fisherman’s love for the Mermaid is stronger than evil, the Soul decides  “I will tempt him now with good, and it may be that he will... (full context)
The Power of Love Theme Icon
As the Fisherman and the Soul realize the Soul cannot gain entry into the Fisherman’s heart, the Sea-folk bring the dead... (full context)