The Nightingale overheard this and was deeply touched by what she believed was the expression of the young man's true love. So she decided to help the young man, but she was told that the only way to get a red rose in this cold winter was for her to build it out of her music and her heart's blood. The Nightingale of course also valued her life, but she was ready to lay down her own life for the happiness of the young couple. She therefore did what she was told to do.
The next morning, the most beautiful red rose appeared, but the Nightingale was found dead under the rose-tree. Not knowing what it had cost to produce the rose, the student thought that he was very lucky to find this flower and he immediately plucked it and ran to the professor's daughter. The professor's daughter, however, turned him down because she had already agreed to dance with the Chamberlain's nephew who had given her precious stones. The student was very angry, so he threw the rose away and returned to his reading.
This is a touching story of love, but not the love between the young student and the professor's daughter, because neither of them understood what true love is. The girl was interested only in power and money, and the young man, in what he considered practical. The only person who understood love, treasured love, and was ready to sacrifice her life for love was the Nightingale. For her love is eternal music, love is the most precious thing: even more precious than life itself, and true love is always in the giving rather than in the taking.
The main theme of this story is love, in fact the young Student needs a red rose to conquer the girl he affirms he loves, even if at the end she doesn’t appreciate his act. This makes us understand two things: on the one hand, that love often brings sorrow, as happens to the tender Nightingale whose gesture of love is not understood by the silly Student. On the other hand, it is very difficult to distinguish between real, authentic love and a more superficial sentiment, and only a very sensitive person can appreciate the full value of this feeling.
Besides there are other themes: ingratitude, because the Student is ungrateful towards the Nightingale, whose act of love he is too arid to grasp; generosity, because the altruist Nightingale sacrifices her life to help the Student and her sacrifice is actually wasted. As for the girl, she is not merely superficial but also vain and materialistic, as she loses all interest in the Student once she is promised something more ‘precious’ like the jewels of the Chamberlain’s nephew.
This fairy tale is very incisive and, despite its apparent simplicity, leaves the reader with a clear moral message: it is important to remember that some people sometimes sacrifice their life or suffer to help others, but at the end they aren’t returned with the same emotional intensity and their actions are not even fully understood. This is a moral message that should be born clear in mind, in an age and period when most people appear to be interested only in their own welfare, without being able to look beyond their limited, subjective perspective, thus failing to see what or who is outside the borders of their very narrow egoistic world.