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What is a summary of "The Nightingale and the Rose"?

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Quick Answer

"The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde is a story of unrequited love. A nightingale hears a young man complaining that his professor's daughter rejected him for want of a red rose. The nightingale is told that a red rose will appear if she is willing to sing all night. The nightingale loses her life to attain a red rose but the girl rejects the young man's gift.

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Full Answer

In Wilde's story, the nightingale believes that love is more precious than jewels that can be bought for money. The nightingale goes searching for a red rose to help the young man woo the girl. She is told by a red-rose tree, barren in its old age, that the nightingale must sing all night until her blood flows into the tree, enabling it to produce a red rose. Deciding that love is worth the price of her life, the nightingale informs the young man that she is willing to die for him but he doesn't understand because he only knows "the things that are written down in books." The nightingale sings beautifully while impaled on the rose tree's thorn. The young man seizes the red rose, rushes to the girl's house and is rejected. He decides to forgo love and study philosophy. The nightingale's death has been in vain.

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