The Nightingale and the Rose

by

Oscar Wilde

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Initially a sympathetic character, the Student ultimately emerges as the antagonist of "The Nightingale and the Rose." By claiming to be deeply in love with the girl, the Student inspires the Nightingale to sacrifice her own life in a quest to bring him a red rose. When the girl rejects the flower, however, the Student carelessly tosses it into the road, concluding that love is a waste of time. This dishonors the one request the Nightingale has made of him—to be a true lover—but it is in keeping with his personality. Throughout the story, the Student reveals himself to be excessively preoccupied with rationality and practicality, to the point that he is literally unable to understand the Nightingale's emotional words to him. The Student, then, illustrates the pitfalls of extreme intellectualism; his need to understand everything in terms of rules and results blinds him to "useless" qualities like selflessness or beauty.

The Student Quotes in The Nightingale and the Rose

The The Nightingale and the Rose quotes below are all either spoken by The Student or refer to The Student. 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:
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of The Nightingale and the Rose published in 2008.
The Nightingale and the Rose Quotes

Here at last is a true lover…Night after night have I sung of him, though I knew him not: night after night have I told his story to the stars, and now I see him. His hair is as dark as the hyacinth-blossom, and his lips are as red as the rose of his desire.

Related Characters: The Nightingale (speaker), The Student
Related Symbols: The Red Rose
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

"He is weeping for a red rose," said the Nightingale.

"For a red rose?" they cried; "how very ridiculous!" and the little Lizard, who was something of a cynic, laughed outright.

Related Characters: The Nightingale (speaker), The Lizard (speaker), The Student
Related Symbols: The Red Rose
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

The Student looked up from the grass and listened, but he could not understand what the Nightingale was saying to him, for he only knew the things that are written down in books.

Related Characters: The Nightingale, The Student
Related Symbols: The Red Rose
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

She has form…but has she got feeling? I am afraid not. In fact, she is like most artists; she is all style, without any sincerity. She would not sacrifice herself for others. She thinks merely of music, and everybody knows that the arts are selfish. Still, it must be admitted that she has some beautiful notes in her voice. What a pity it is that they do not mean anything, or do any practical good.

Related Characters: The Student (speaker), The Nightingale
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

What a wonderful piece of luck…here is a red rose! I have never seen any rose like it in all my life. It is so beautiful that I am sure it has a long Latin name.

Related Characters: The Student (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Red Rose
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

What a silly thing Love is…It is not half as useful as Logic, for it does not prove anything, and it is always telling one of things that are not going to happen, and making one believe things that are not true. In fact, it is quite unpractical, and…in this age to be practical is everything.

Related Characters: The Student (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

So he returned to his room and pulled out a great dusty book, and began to read.

Related Characters: The Student
Related Symbols: The Dusty Book
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Nightingale and the Rose LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Nightingale and the Rose PDF

The Student Character Timeline in The Nightingale and the Rose

The timeline below shows where the character The Student appears in The Nightingale and the Rose. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Nightingale and the Rose
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Art and Idealism Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
As a Nightingale sits in her nest in an Oak-tree, she overhears a Student speaking mournfully about his sweetheart, who has said she will not dance with him unless... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Art and Idealism Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
The Student continues to bemoan his unrequited love, imagining in great detail how the girl will pass... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Art and Idealism Theme Icon
The Nightingale decides to help the Student, and flies to the center of the garden to speak to the White Rose-tree. She... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
Her mind made up, the Nightingale flies back to the Student and tells him the good news, asking simply that he honor her sacrifice by being... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Art and Idealism Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
After the Nightingale sings, the Student criticizes her performance, saying that it is stylistically impressive but emotionally shallow. He then returns... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Art and Idealism Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
Hours later, the Student looks outside his window and sees the rose. Delighted, he says that it is the... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
The Student plucks the rose and takes it to the girl at her father's (the Professor's) house.... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
In response, the Student huffs that the girl is "ungrateful," and throws the rose into the street to be... (full context)
Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Materialism, Intellectualism, and Emotion Theme Icon
As the Student walks away, he thinks about how irrational and impractical love is and concludes that he... (full context)