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The Theme Of Vanity In The Proud King By William Morris

So many themes run through this narrative masterpiece; among them are the supremacy of God, the act of sin and repentance, the effective power of death, etc.

This article will be discussing the theme of vanity. "The Proud King" by William Morris reminds the reader through his prominent character (Jovinian) of how vain life and wealth are.

The poem opens as follows:
"In a far country that I cannot name,
And in a year long ages past away,
A King there dwelt, in rest and ease and fame,
And richer than the Emperor is today:"
The mammoth wealth and high status triggered the pride in Jovinian to the extent of believing himself a God on earth but within a blink of eye, he was mysteriously dethroned and relegated to a state of wretchedness: "the real King by the roadside lay, Panting, confused, scarce knowing if he dreamed" (line 253-254), "The hot sun solely burned his naked skin" (line 100).

According to line 190-193 of the poem, those who saw Jovinian admitted he resembled their king but refused to reckon with his laments and never gave him the respect he used to get:
"He to the King is nothing in aught
But that his beard he weareth in such guise
As doth my lord: wilt thou that he be brought?
Perchance some treason 'neath his madness lies"

In a nutshell, the theme of vanity is based on the fact that nothing is certain on earth.

Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)
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