What is the theme in "The Young King" by Oscar Wilde?

1 Answer | Add Yours

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One of the main themes in The Young King is self-transformation. This young king who lives in opulence and extravagance has an ephiphany through a dream, realizing that the golden and expensive robe he is to wear for coronation was paid for by the sacrifice of the poor, and with money that could have gone somewhere neccesary. Hence, like a born-again Saint, the young king decides to wear robes instead of the kingly cape, and adopt a martyr-like pose for his coronation. Bringing shame to those around him, he is nearly killed until an apparent miracle occurs and what seems to be the presence of Christ in the church shines through his jewels, and makes all bright up. This, is a symbol of the confirmation that this man has taken a vow of poverty and sacrifice, and that he has indeed changed.

And lo! through the painted windows came the sunlight streaming upon him, and the sunbeams wove round him a tissued robe that was fairer than the robe that had been fashioned for his pleasure. The dead staff blossomed, and bare lilies that were whiter than pearls. The dry thorn blossomed, and bare roses that were redder than rubies. Whiter than fine pearls were the lilies, and their stems were of bright silver. Redder than male rubies were the roses, and their leaves were of beaten gold.
     He stood there in the raiment of a king, and the gates of the jewelled shrine flew open, and from the crystal of the many-rayed monstrance shone a marvellous and mystical light. He stood there in a king's raiment, and the Glory of God filled the place, and the saints in their carven niches seemed to move. In the fair raiment of a king he stood before them, and the organ pealed out its music, and the trumpeters blew upon their trumpets, and the singing boys sang.
     And the people fell upon their knees in awe, and the nobles sheathed their swords and did homage, and the Bishop's face grew pale, and his hands trembled. 'A greater than I hath crowned thee,' he cried, and he knelt before him.

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question