Rasselas- Prince of Abyssinia

This paper analyzes “Rasselas- Prince of Abyssinia”, a short story by Samuel Johnson that follows the young prince’s quest for true happiness.

This paper presents the story of Rasselas who is dissatisfied with the inability of material excess to satisfy the deeper joy it promises and embarks on a journey of realization. The paper explains that, in the end, nothing is resolved and none of the characters achieves the ideal of happiness pursued. The author believes that Johnson is saying materialism cannot replace true happiness.
Rasselas lives with all the luxury of nobility and eventually shakes himself from the diversions of the court with the realization that he is not truly happy. The valley in which he lives is both a sanctuary and a prison, his isolation from the world and any type of pain or suffering causes him to question the seemingly unmerited excess in which he has always been indulged. The valley resembles in many respects the Garden of Eden and Rasselas’s quest for happiness can easily be compared to Adam and Eve’s thirst for knowledge in that the prince also yearns for something beyond what his father has provided.