The Happy Prince


Oscar Wilde

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The Happy Prince Characters

The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince is both the protagonist of this story and its namesake. Once a sheltered prince who led a life of pleasure, the Happy Prince was turned into a gilded statue upon his death… read analysis of The Happy Prince

The Swallow

The other protagonist of “The Happy Prince,” the Swallow, is a bird en route to Egypt for the winter. His trip is initially delayed due to his temporary passion for a Reed, foreshadowing to… read analysis of The Swallow

The Reed

Although she appears relatively briefly in the story, the Reed still has an important role. The Sparrow initially falls in love with her for her slenderness and beauty and delays his migration to warmer territory… read analysis of The Reed

The Little Match-Girl

A young girl selling matches on a street corner whose father beats her if she does not return with sufficient money. Having dropped her matches, she appears to be in a tragic situation until the… read analysis of The Little Match-Girl


God appears in the very last lines of the story to rescue the Sparrow’s body and the Happy Prince’s leaden heart and to promise them eternity in Paradise for their sacrifices. Although his… read analysis of God
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Minor Characters
The Woman in the Poor House
A seamstress sewing passion-flowers on a satin gown for one of the Queen’s maids-of-honor. Too poor to purchase an orange for her ill son, this woman inspires the Happy Prince to give away the ruby from his sword-hilt.
The Playwright
A young man writing plays in his garret (an attic room with a hole in the roof). He struggles to combat cold and hunger until the Happy Prince gives up one of his sapphire eyes to help him.
The Mayor
Although he only appears at the very conclusion of the story, the Mayor’s narcissistic attitude epitomizes the problems of power. He wants the Happy Prince melted down and recast in his own image, and he wants to issue a proclamation banning birds from dying in public.
The Town Councillors
Often discussed in the collective, the Town Councillors represent the deepest corruption in this city. Obsessed with their reputations, they ignore anything that doesn’t appear beautiful or beneficial for their self-promotion.