Title: The Remarkable Rocket.
Author: Oscar Wilde.
Genre: Fiction, satire, fairy tale, parody, humour, short story.
Publication Date: 1888.
Summary: This story concerns a firework, who is one of many to be let off at the wedding of a prince and princess. The rocket is extremely pompous and self-important, and denigrates all the other fireworks, eventually bursting into tears to demonstrate his "sensitivity". As this makes him wet, he fails to ignite, and, the next day, is thrown away into a ditch. He still believes that he is destined for great public importance, and treats a frog, dragonfly, and duck that meet him with appropriate disdain. His ending is suiting to his vanity.
My rating: 10/10.
♥ 'She was like a white rose before,' said a young page to his neighbour, 'but she is like a red rose now;' and the whole court was delighted.
For the next three days everybody went about saying, 'White rose, red rose, red rose, white rose,' and the king gave orders that the page's salary was to be doubled. As he received no salary at all this was not of much use to him, but it was considered a great honour, and was duly published in the Court Gazette.
♥ 'The world is certainly very beautiful,' cried a little squib. 'Just look at those yellow tulips. Why! if they were real crackers they could not be lovelier. I am very glad I have travelled. Travel improves the mind wonderfully, and does away with all one's prejudices.'
'The king's garden is not the world, you foolish squib,' said a big Roman candle; 'the world is an enormous place, and it would take you three days to see it thoroughly.'
'Any place you love is the world to you,' exclaimed the pensive Catherine wheel, who had been attached to an old deal box in early life, and prided herself on her broken heart; 'but love is not fashionable any more, the poets have killed it. They wrote so much about it that nobody believed them, and I am not surprised. True love suffers, and is silent. I remember myself once- But no matter now. Romance is a thing of the past.'
'Nonsense!' said the Roman candle, 'Romance never dies. It is like the moon, and lives for ever. The bride and bridegroom, for instance, love each other very dearly. I heard all about them this morning from a brown-paper cartridge, who happened to be staying in the same drawer as myself, and he knew the latest court news.'
But the Catharine wheel shook her head. 'Romance is dead, romance is dead, romance is dead,' she murmured. She was one of those people who think that, if you say the same thing over and over a great many times, it becomes true in the end.
♥ 'You are a very irritating person,' said the rocket, 'and very ill-bred. I hate people who talk about themselves, as you do, when one wants to talk about oneself, as I do. It is what I call selfishness, and selfishness is a most detestable thing, especially to anyone of my temperament, for I am well known for my sympathetic nature. In fact, you should take example by me; you could not possibly have a better model. Now that you have the chance you had better avail yourself of it, for I am going back to court almost immediately. I am a great favourite at court; in fact, the prince and princess were married yesterday in my honour. Of course, you know nothing of these matters, for you are provincial.'
'There is no good talking to him,' said a dragonfly, who was sitting on the top of a large brown bulrush, 'no good at all, for he has gone away.'
'Well that is his loss, not mine,' answered the rocket. 'I am not going to stop talking to him merely because he pays no attention. I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word I am saying.'
'Then you should certainly lecture on philosophy,' said the dragonfly, and he spread a pair of lovely gauze wings and soared away into the sky.
♥ 'Pray, what are you laughing at?' enquired the rocket. 'I am not laughing.'
'I am laughing because I am happy,' replied the cracker.
'That is a very selfish reason,' said the rocket angrily. 'What right have you to be happy? You should be thinking about others. In fact, you should be thinking about me. I am always thinking about myself, and I expect everybody else to do the same. That is what is called sympathy. It is a beautiful virtue, and I possess it in a high degree. Suppose, for instance, anything happened to me tonight, what a misfortune that would be for everyone! The prince and princess would never be happy again, their whole married life would be spoiled; and as for the king, I know he would not get over it. Really, when I begin to reflect on the importance of my position, I am almost moved to tears.'
'If you want to give pleasure to others,' cried the Roman candle, 'you had better keep yourself dry.'
'Certainly,' exclaimed the Bengal light, who was now in better spirits; 'that is only common sense.'
'Common sense, indeed!' said the rocket indignantly; 'you forget that I am very uncommon and very remarkable. Why, anybody can have common sense, provided that they have no imagination. But I have imagination, for I never think of things as they really are; I always think of them as being quite different. As for keeping myself dry, there is evidently no one here who can at all appreciate an emotional nature. Fortunately for myself, I don't care. The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling I have always cultivated. But none of you have any hearts. Here you are laughing and making merry just as if the prince and princess had not just been married.'
'Well, really,' exclaimed a small fire-balloon, 'why not? It is a most joyful occasion, and when I soar up into the air I intend to tell the stars all about it. You will see them twinkle when I talk to them about the pretty bride.'
'Ah! what a trivial view of life!' said the rocket, 'but it is only what I expected. There is nothing in you; you are hollow and empty. Why, perhaps the prince and princess may go to live in a county where there is a deep river, and perhaps they may have one only son, a little fair-haired boy with violet eyes like the prince himself; and perhaps some day he may go out to walk with his nurse; and perhaps the nurse may go to sleep under a great elder tree; and perhaps the little boy may fall into the deep river and be drowned. What a terrible misfortune! Poor people, to lose their only son! It is really too dreadful! I shall never get over it.'
'But they have not lost their only son,' said the Roman candle; 'no misfortune has happened to them at all.'
'I never said that they had,' replied the Rocket; 'I said that they might. If they had lost their only son there would be no use in saying any more about the matter. I hate people who cry over spilt milk. But when I think that they might lose their only son, I certainly am very much affected.'
'You certainly are!' cried the Begal light. 'In fact, you are the most affected person I ever met.'
'You are the rudest person I ever met,' said the rocket, 'and you cannot understand my friendship for the prince.'
'Why, you don't even know him,' growled the Roman candle.
'I never said I knew him,' answered the rocket. 'I dare say that if I knew him I should not be his friend at all. It is a very dangerous thing to know one's friends.'