The Fisherman and His Soul

by

Oscar Wilde

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Themes and Colors
The Power of Love Theme Icon
Temptation, Corruption, and Evil Theme Icon
Transformation and the Doppelganger Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and the Soul Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Fisherman and His Soul, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Power of Love

Love drives the titular protagonist’s actions throughout Oscar Wilde’s “The Fisherman and His Soul,” the story of a young Fisherman who falls in love with a Mermaid. Upon asking her to marry him, the Mermaid replies that if the Fisherman is to live with her in the sea he must first rid himself of his Soul, as the Sea-folk are themselves soulless. Notably, then, romantic love is immediately depicted as something that requires…

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Temptation, Corruption, and Evil

After the Fisherman separates himself from his Soul so that he can live with the Mermaid, once a year for three years the Soul returns from traveling the world to try and tempt him to leave his love. The first two times, the Soul does this with very long and highly detailed stories of wisdom and riches, and each time the Fisherman is unmoved and happily returns to the Mermaid. It doesn’t take long…

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Transformation and the Doppelganger

Once the Fisherman has fallen in love with the Mermaid and has agreed to do away with his Soul in order to be with her, supernatural and spiritual changes take place within multiple characters. Following the Fisherman’s separation from his Soul, he can now live in the sea with the Sea-folk, and the Soul himself becomes a separate entity independent of his master, eventually taking on the role of a doppelganger; he is a mirror…

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Christianity, Morality, and the Soul

Upon falling in love with the Mermaid and learning that he must give up his Soul in order to be with her, the Fisherman visits the Priest to seek his advice. The Priest, however, is completely appalled by his decision and responds aggressively to his suggestion that he give up his soul. Furthermore, he is disgusted by the fact that the Fisherman has fallen in love with the Mermaid because she is an “ungodly” creature…

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