The extremely amusing story “Devoted Friend” contains a message for the grown up people although it is written by the renowned English novelist and story-teller, Oscar Wilde, in fairy tale style. Its subject is in sincere and selfish type of friendship and the author has treated the subtle subject with a classis tough of light humor and irony.
Summary of the Story:
The story has two symbolic characters, Hugh the Miller and Little Hans. Both of them lived in small village. Han was a simple, innocent, sincere, hardworking and helpful type of man. One the contrary, Hugh the Miller was extremely selfish, callous and greedy fellow. Time and again, the Miller claimed to be the best and most devote friend of Little Hans but his behavior was quite contrary to his claim. Poor Hans was so simple friend of little Hans but his behavior was quite contrary to his claim. Poor Hans was so simple gentle and innocent that he trusted the Miller and felt proud of haying such a “Devoted Friend”.
For a long, time the selfish and clever Miller kept on exploiting. Little Hans simply by speaking charming words about true friendship and never acting as a true friend. He would frequently visit the smallgardenofHansto carry away from there plenty of flowers and fruit free of cost. To justify his selfish attitude, the Miller used to say to Little Hans.
“Real friends should have everything in common”.
Poor Hans believed such and every word spoken by the Miller and never bothered his head to notice the selfishness of the clever fellow who never gave Hans anything in return although he had a flock of sheep, six cows, many bags of flours and drums of wine. The Miller, virtually uses Hans as his paid servant without giving him a penny. Sometimes he would send Hans to the market of the town for selling a bag of flour or to the mountains of Grazing the Sheep. Often he would ask Hans to do some repair work at the barn or help him at the flourmill. Hans willingly did everything without any resentment because he did not want to displease his “best friend”. Hugh the Miller. The clever Miller promised to give his wheelbarrow to Hans as a gist but the promise remained unfulfilled.
As the story reaches its climax, the reader is deeply shocked to notice the supreme manifestation of the Miller’s cruelty. It was a dark, cold and stormy night when Hugh the Miller reached the cottage of Hans. He looked in real distress and trouble and he told Hans that he was badly in need of help. He said that his little son had fallen from the ladder and hurt himself very seriously. He wanted Hans to go to the doctor’s house in the mountains and bring him to examine and cure the child.
As usual, Little Hans consented to do every possible service to the Miller who did not want to take the risk of going into the dangerous mountain region himself.
Unfortunately, it proved to be the last errand as poor Hans lost his life in the process. While coming back from the doctor’s house, Little Hans lost his way and stranded in the hill tracts. He kept running in directions vainly and, at last, fell down into a deep ditch. The stormy rain had turned that ditch into a big pool of water. Poor Hans was drowned there.
The next morning, some shepherds discovered the dead body of little Hans and carried it to the cottage of the unlucky fellow. Within no time, the whole village assembled there. It was quite surprising that the Miller was the chief mourner and he said that he alone had the right to lead the general procession, as he was the best friend of Little Hans.
The end of the story has a tough of subtle satire on the so-called devoted friendship. The story also reveals to the reader the true concept of sincere friendship, which is a noble and sacred type of relationship based on mutual respect, mutual interest and mutual attachment. It is not at all one-sided affairs and it has no room for selfishness, cruelty, cunningness and foolishness. Judge from this standard, both the Miller and Hans had no idea as to what real friendship is. In fact sincerity is the essence of friendship.
(1) “A friend is one soul in two bodies” (Aristotle)
(2) “Promise and pie crust are made to be broken” (Swift)
(3) Friendship, peculiar boon of Heaven
The noble mind’s delight pride,
To men and angles only given
To all the lower world denied (Samuel Johnson)