The Remarkable Rocket by Oscar Wilde
In The Remarkable Rocket by Oscar Wilde we have the theme of self-importance, loneliness, failure, ego and delusion. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Wilde may be exploring the theme of self-importance. The rocket considers himself to be the best rocket there can be. He also feels as though he is better than any of the other fireworks. If anything the rocket has no time for anybody else unless they are being complimentary to him. The most important person in the rocket’s life is the rocket himself. Not only does the rocket come from good lineage (in his opinion) but he also has more interesting things to say than anybody else. He is wrapped up in his own self-importance. Without really listening to others or taking on board what others might say. It is as though the rocket’s ego is running wild. He is better than anybody or anything else. Which may lead some readers to suspect that the rocket is in fact delusion such is his belief in his own self-importance. Nobody is better than the rocket in the eyes of the rocket. He can rise higher in the sky and looks better than the other fireworks. Which again may suggest that not only is the rocket full of his own self-importance but again he may be deluded.
Though this does not seem to bother the rocket as he doesn’t appear to take on board anything that anyone says. When he is talking to the frog he longs to be able to speak (all about himself) yet the frog beats the rocket at his own game. Which may suggest that the rocket is not as unique as he would like to think he is. There are others in the world like the frog who can better the rocket at his own game. It is also interesting that the rocket doesn’t realise that he must stay clear of water for his gunpowder to fire. Firstly his tears dampen the gunpowder and the rocket will not go off and secondly he continues to sink into the mud which only leaves the rocket to get damper. If anything the tears and dampness from the mud may symbolically highlight failure. The rocket won’t ignite because he is wet and this appears to be lost on the rocket.
The rocket also appears to thrive on the fact that he considers himself to be remarkable if not the best firework there is. Which would again play on the themes of self-importance and ego. He also considers himself to be intellectually superior to the other fireworks though he has achieved nothing in the story to suggest he is. The rockets mind is clouded or awash with his own importance. If anything the rocket appears to be selfish. He doesn’t want to listen to anyone else (similar to the frog) and he thinks that he has been personally selected for the Princes wedding when the reality is the rocket himself could be any other rocket. There is nothing to make him special or different to any other rocket. The rocket lives in his own world (or head) and the only person that he is fooling is himself. He is too driven by his ego and sense of self-importance. If anything the rocket possesses a stubborn streak that cannot be shifted by others because the rocket doesn’t really consider anything that anyone else says as being important.
The end of the story is also interesting as the rocket does get the opportunity to launch however nobody sees his ascent into the skies so nobody apart from the rocket can see how great or majestic he might be. The goat considers it to be raining sticks which would be offensive to the rocket and the rocket on landing considers that he has ‘created a great sensation.’ This may be important as it further highlights just how deluded the rocket might be. All throughout the story the rocket has considered himself to be the best (firework) yet nobody saw the rocket in the sky. The two boys who placed him on the fire are asleep. The Prince and Princess are not there. There is nobody. Which may be the point that Wilde is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that should an individual consider themselves to be better than others or to have an inflated opinion of themselves they will live a very lonely life. Throughout the story there is a sense that the rocket has no friends which may be because he thinks of himself as being better than others. The rocket wanted the world (and the Prince) to see him shine in the sky yet at the end of the story nobody saw the rocket fly. To add salt to the rocket’s wound. The goat considers the rocket to be no more than a stick. As too did the two young boys who placed the rocket on the fire.