Adult world

Grown-up World: The planets inhabitants

The novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry we notice the contrast between the adult way of thinking and the perspective of the children. Through the little prince's encounter with the strange inhabitants of the planets, the author indirectly criticizes the behavior of adults. He creates stereotypes of adults with which he exaggerates certain behavior. The planet inhabitants are the first grown-ups the little prince encounters on his journey.

The orders of the king

At first, the little prince meets a power-loving king. He rules and must command at absolutely all times. The king thinks he is powerful, but he has no power. He is alone on his planet and lives in an illusion.

The king sees the little prince as a subject, because for him all people are subjects. When the little prince yawns, the king forbids him to do so, although he does not mind at all, but "It is contrary to etiquette to yawn in the presence of a king" (32%). When the little prince says that he cannot help it, the king tries to find another way: "Ah, then, [...] I order you to yawn." 32%). It is evident from this scene that the king does not want to accept a defeat of his supposed authority. The king's power is portrayed as ridiculous.

However, the king is so reasonable that he orders only what can happen. For example, he orders a sunset only when the sun is about to set. His ruler's wisdom is based on this: "One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform" (36%). 

In the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that the king feels lonely , because he asks the little prince not to leave and to become minister of justice instead. But the little prince refuses. At the moment of the little prince's departure, the king makes him his ambassador. With this action, he does not completely lose control over a situation that he did not command and that is based on the little prince's free decision. He also wants to be able to evaluate the departure of the little prince as a success of his power.

The episode about the king is a parable about the nature of power. A king without subjects is, of course, an absurdity, even if he is reasonable. With the figure of the king, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry parodies the behavior of the category of power-hungry adults who want to have everything under control and always give orders.

The praise of the conceited man

The little prince meets the lonely conceited man on the second planet he visits. The conceited man finds what he is looking for in the little prince, because "to conceited men, all other men are admirers" (27%).

The little prince does not know what 'admire' means, and the conceited man explains it to him with the following words: "To admire means that you regard me as the handsomest, the best-dressed, the richest, and the most intelligent man on this planet." (28%). He uses the pronoun "me" and not "someone," which shows that he can only talk about himself.

The conceited man hears nothing but the praises. A conversation about a topic other than about himself is not possible with him. He loves nothing but himself. For him, his visitors are merely admirers of his person who have come to cheer him.

While the little prince initially finds the conceited man's addiction to admiration amusing, he gets bored with it after a short time. For him, the exterior is just a shell. For the conceited man, on the other hand, the little prince is just a mirror in which he can look at himself and wants to hear about how wonderful he is.

With the character of the conceited man, the author parodies the behavior of the category of narcissistic, selfish adults. Full of an exaggerated type of self-love, they are concerned only with themselves and are not interested in anything else but themselves.

The hopeless tippler

The lonely tippler whom the little prince meets on the 3rd planet is a tragic figure. He is ill, but self-aware. When someone drinks so much alone in broad daylight, they often want to forget something. In the case of the tippler, this is the shame of being a drunkard. The tippler drinks in order to forget that he is ashamed of the fact that he drinks. The little prince feels sorry for the tippler, but he does not condemn him. He leaves him because he realizes that he cannot help him.

With the tippler, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry parodies the behavior of the category of adults who have such massive personal problems with themselves that they can no longer be helped. Instead of working on themselves, they ...

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