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An altered ego

Beauty isn't self sufficient; it needs in addition flattery and observance; that's how it starts the tale of those remarkable fireworks or princes being described with passion for adornment and emphasis on best features. Perfect royal youths are to be married, but that is not the core of the story called "The Remarkable Rocket".Oscar Wilde focuses on the world of objects. They can have soul, spirit, beauty or ego, since they are active part of a wonderful environment. They help people seem richer, more glamorous or interesting. Each of the fireworks has its own personality and just like real people they have conflicts, curiosities, fears and dreams. They're aware of their role and limitations. The world is beautiful, whether it is the garden of the King or an enormous place you can visit in about three days or something you hold dear. The Rocket considers itself more remarkable than its kind or human beings themselves. This seems enough to make it become the star of the tale, as an oversized ego, no matter if it belongs to people or objects attracts us to praise it and wonder, to judge it, envy or mock it. To be self assured you're the finest and always right seems powerful enough to intimidate the rest. Imagination is helping Rocket to consider itself so remarkable that nobody matters. The only thing harming it is its own rule of always thinking different than others. He'd rather cry if he knows the rest of firecrackers find it dangerous and unnatural for their kind to be other than dry. Being ostentatious and “original”, the Rocket doesn't understand why people throw him away as useless and bad. After “swimming in muddy waters” he still extracts optimism from his illusions of greatness and goes on with a proud attitude. The only one irritating him the most is a Frog, having an enormous ego himself and being enveloped into his own world of wishes. When Rocket manages to hear again only himself talking, he barely cares if a Duck or a Dragon-Fly or any other characters like him or not. His expectations of reaching sky and come back in a glorious shower of golden drops are still high, even when the last two possible spectators, two boys, go to sleep near the fire that catches onto the Rocket. Some sources suggest that the author alluded heavily and sarcastically to Whistler in this particular story. The ones knowing Oscar Wilde's life may say the same thing about him, as his own personality tended to manifest in a “remarkable” way and was commented upon as that. And as the line between sublime and ridiculous is often very thin, we may add it is easy to judge people with that “je ne sais quoi” as great or scandalous, but always as someone that produces strong reactions.

Usually children's tales make their small readers/ listeners be more receptive to moral endings. It is easy to like the good triumphing over bad at that age, when those notions seem very simple. As an adult you might reconsider the “remarkable” ego of the Rocket being only vain and tasteless. In grown up world we know that making something out of ourselves is based on our self respect and ego, this pretty great mechanism that gives us hope and motivation, will and generally a healthy boost. Yes, pride can ruin or be ruined, especially if everyone tells us kids stories and advice as- “always listen to what others think” or “never dare further than your own square” (actually imposed by those who have the intelligence of assuming potent roles as authority figures). So, which is the “altered” ego? The one that acts like clay into others' hands or the one that has high expectations? Considering yourself low or helpless you only make space for those believing themselves great. After all, hardly we remember OK, nice, passive fellows, having no bold dreams. That's why I sense compassion towards the consequent Rocket that “dies” unchanged in its initial (and perhaps “essential”) pride. What would be the use of burning out knowing you're a nothing and nobody cares anyway if you spark?

In real, normal life a good opinion of yourself is necessary. Being too optimistic about what you are or could do is always others' first problem. They are bothered and finally they destroy you (if chance is given) and not your ego , which actually performs as required: stimulates you .

Were the remarkable Rocket not so exaggerated , but ordinary, the story would be boring or pointless, as a matter of fact.

Free Vol, dec. 2004

Copyright © Katiusha Cuculescu, 2004