The Serious and Humorous

In Wilde’s “The Remarkable Rocket” Wilde is able to create humorous interactions between the fireworks that are the show piece display of the royal wedding celebrations. The main firework is the Rocket. Presented as the main attraction, he is obviously narcissistic and vainglorious-ironically in its own ability to empathize with others. He shows this “superior sensitivity” by shedding tears for the foolish reason of potential incidents that are incredibly unlikely to happen and further justifies his own superiority by saying that the other fireworks are too inferior to comprehend his feelings. Wilde chooses to throw in a humorous side bar about a beetle couple that nearly drowns due to his tears. It almost seems that Wilde inserts these humorous bits to emphasize his narcissism, especially highlighting his stubbornness and disdain for others which ultimately leave him alone and his beauty unseen.

In fact, I often found Wilde utilizing epigrams when several animals are critiquing him. The humor in a way accentuates the disconnection between the Rocket and the rest of the world. For example during the Rocket’ s interaction with a passerby frog, the Rocket finds himself unhappy due to the frog’s strong personality shown in his one-sided dialogue. “‘Conversation, indeed!’ said the Rocket. ‘You have talked the whole time yourself. That is not conversation.’ ‘Somebody must listen,’ answered the Frog, ‘and I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments.'” Wilde uses humor to depict the serious self-destruction of the rocket whose ultimate fate is to push everyone away with his personality and waste the beauty of his explosion in the climax where the “Remarkable Rocket” manages only to frighten a goose who thinks it is raining sticks. The paradox of this manner of writing seems to make it more memorable. I think this also makes it easier for an audience member to associate these situations with his/her life when they are light-hearted and comedic, therefore realizing its purpose in the effect it has on the reader.



Filed under Week 2 Reviews: Wilde's Poetry and Short Fiction

2 responses to “The Serious and Humorous

  1. Hi! I find this post entry very interesting, HJ; the importance of the dialogue between the Remarkable Rocket and the Frog are quite significant in Wilde’s tale as a whole. As you said, HJ, the rocket is obviously narcissistic. I’ve wrote on the same subject as well, and unfortunately I’ve got to admit the term “narcissistic” didn’t occur to me, event though, it was indeed obvious (I rather stressed on the Rocket’s arrogance, overweening pride, that is, ultimately some sort of hubris). I also envisioned the last part of the short tale as taking place in some sort of swamp (because it is described as a ditch with some mud, and more significantly with animals such as a frog, a dragon-fly, or a duck). Well, from this -and some thoughts leading to some other thoughts- I was wondering if the final part of the tale could be a sort of literary topos in which the main character is supposed to be confronted with some truth, or at least some clues that should constrain the Self to question its ipseity and its selfhood as it is already the case in the early “Roman de la Rose” (XIIIe) wherein the Poet (L’Amant/the Lover) gets an arrow in the eye and the heart while contemplating some shimmering reflections in a fountain… What is the weird symbolic of a watery space possibly associated with self-fashioning and ego-construction? -R.C.

    • I particularly liked the title to your post HJ. The idea of the serious, the humorous and the dichotomy with which Wilde seems to so delicately blur them is fascinating. What immediately came to my mind, following the lines of R.C.’s mention of “self-fashioning, ego-construction, hubris, narcissism” etc. was a sense of diluted madness. The Rocket is totally delusional in the sense that he believes all is centered around him and his imminent fight into the skies. All of the other objects or animals in the story cannot empathize with him because of this overly exaggerated sense of narcissism. Albert Einstein once quoted insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. The rocket does exactly this when he repeatedly gives his own praise, all the while remaining blind to his ineptitude to connect to others. We laugh at these silly fireworks talking, and animals swimming by the ever proud Rocket; we even laugh at the Rocket’s banter. However is there not a certain cruelty in our laughter? Were we to encounter the Rocket as a man today his pride would take us aback immediately.MCR

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