In Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince,” the court is represents the concept of blissful ignorance and a kind of Heaven on Earth. Wilde describes to the reader through the Happy Prince that, “Round the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about me was beautiful.” (255) The Prince and his companions waste their days away playing in the gardens and their nights dancing in the Great Hall. Only positive emotions are known and nothing seems to exist that causes discomfort. These elites in the story experience the ultimate prize of Utopia without having to go through any harsh realities. However, outside of the garden wall lays an entire city filled with “ugliness and…misery” (Wilde, 255) that the Happy Prince, specifically, chooses to ignore. Only after death does the Happy Prince learn of this harsh reality. This is when he is made to weep, as if, as consequence for living in false paradise, he must now understand the sorrow of humankind that he never grasped in life. What is worse is that he can do nothing about it since he is “fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move” (Wilde, 256). This could be seen as purgatory for living a life of complete happiness. Only when the Happy Prince has given everything he can and looks “little better than a beggar” (Wilde, 260) is he allowed into the true garden of Paradise. The Happy Prince had to give up all materialistic wealth before being given the ultimate prize; the admittance into the House of God.
It seems that Wilde is trying to portray the royals in a more pessimistic light. Where in other fairy tales the powerful and wealthy also seem to have generous hearts-as in “Catskin” by Joseph Jacobs-without needing any prompting from negative consequences, these royals are ignorant and selfish; they can only be concerned with their own happiness and well-being. Wilde also shows that just this is only rewarded in the human realm. It is not until the statue of the Happy Prince has been used to its fullest extent that it is finally melted down because it was “no longer beautiful” and therefore “no longer useful” (Wilde, 260) is the Happy Prince recognized as one of “the most precious things in the city.” (Wilde, 260)