Themes of The Proud King


(1) The theme of Fear:

King Jovinian was a no nonsense king and whenever he speaks, no other dare speak; “From dusk to dawn kept manya lord awake/ For fear of him did many a great man quake” (line 6-7) And when he makes mistake, he “knew that none durst say_ when he did wrong” (line 21). Later in the poem, fearless king Jovinian began to fear the lost of all his possessions, and also began to fear God in line 606 he says “Lord God, what bitter things are these?”


The poem is centered round the king’s pride and how his pride almost cost him all he has had. Even his pride made people to fear him unnecessarily; “But at the dais must he sit alone/ Nor durst a man speak to him for his life” (in lines 10-11) and his pride made him referred to himself as God; “What need have I for temple or for priest/ Am I not God, whiles that I live at least.” (line 27-28).

(3) The theme of SUPREMACY F GOD

The poet proves that the supremacy of God is far better than that of the King Jovinian. Jovinian’s supremacy makes him maintain fear and respect for his positions and possessions but the supremacy of God ripped him off his position, shamed him and made him worth nothing in the eyes of everyone; “The hot sun sorely burned his naked skin” (in line 100). The angel finally revealed himself to King Jovinian from line 719-728:

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“And now he spoke, “O King, be not dismayed
Or think my coming here so strange to be,
For oft ere this have I been close to thee.
And now thou knowest in how short a space
The God that made the world can unmake thee
And though He alter in no whit thy face
Can make all folk forget thee utterly
That thou to-day a nameless wretch mayst be
Who yesterday woke up without a peer
The wide world’s marvel and people’s fear.”

(4) The theme of Repentance:

Without repentance, the proud king wouldn’t have regain his position and wealths. King Jovinian’s began to surface in the poem in different forms. He began to wear heart of regret; “Muttered, I wish the day would ne’er come back/ If all that once I had I now must lack” (line 333-334) in his regrets, he still has hope for “the fresh morning air/ The rising sun, and all things fresh and fair/ Yet caused some little hope in him to rise” (in lines 347-349) and at a certain point he narrated his plight to Christophera-Green from line 365-370:
“And asked him of his name and misery;
Then in his throat a swelling passion rose,
Which yet he swallowed down, and, “Friend,” said he, “Last night I had the hap to meet the foes Of God and man, who robbed me, and with blows Stripped off my weed and left me on the way:”

When King Jovinian became so confused in his state of nothingness, hecalled on God in line 435-436; “Ah, God!” said he, “is this another earth/ From that whereon I stood two days ago?” he further begged God from line 605-609 “Saying, “Lord God, what bitter things are these?/What hast thou done, that every man that sees/This wretched body, of my death is fain?/ O Lord God, give me back myself again!”.

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(5) The theme of Arrogance:

King Jovinian’s arrogance went far even in his situation of penury, he was arrogantly approaching the nobles; he was banging the palace gate with a very heavy stone in line 143-144 “He hurdled himself against the mighty gate/ And beat upon it madly with a stone” and in line 215-217, he was shouting at the ranger; “Armies will rise up when I nod my head/ Slay me! _or cast thy treachery away/ And have anew my favour from this day.”

(6) The theme of Vanity and Death:

The Proud King realised that all human possessions without God is vain. He realised such when he met his queen, she didnt recognize him, the duke didnt recognize him, the soldiers didnt recognize, the Father that used to know him didnt recognize him, he was wandering with beggars and low-lives. At point of death feared that his fame and glories and possessions will turn to vain; “Or else is this the ending of my life/ And no man henceforth shall remember me/ And a vain name in records shall I be.” (line 460-462). The Proud King made mockery of his dead ancestor beause he believed he would never die “But he, who seldom yet had seen death near/ Or heard his name, said, “Still I may not die/ Though underneath the earth my fathers lie/ My sire indeed was called a mighty king/ Yet in regard of mine, a little” but Jovinian also died.

The Rest of the Themes are

7] The theme of the therapeutic power of nature

8] The theme of Impermanence of wealth

10] The theme of the immortality of of art

11] The theme of corruptive nature of wealth and affluence

12] The theme of the frailty of the human mind

13] Sinners must repent their sins

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