Oscar Wilde's The Young King' is the tale of a young man's metamorphosis, through a dream quest, that opens his eyes to the heart rendering struggle of the poor, who are exploited by the rich and the powerful to satisfy their own selfish needs. The change that takes place in the Young King reflects his attainment of the virtue asked for in Christ's message. The story begins with "the night before the day fixed for his coronation" and the young king, "being but sixteen years of age" sits alone in his opulent chambers adorned with rich and beautiful things. The boy who had been bought up by a peasant in the forest had a great love and fascination for beauty. Similarly "All rare and costly material things had certainly a great fascination for him" and his eagerness to procure them had sent merchants to all corners of the globe to get them. But above all else, it was the robe that he was to wear at his coronation, made of tissue gold, the "ruby studded crown and the sceptre with its rows and rings of pearls" that mesmerized him. On that tranquil night when it struck midnight and he had been "disrobed with much ceremony", he fell asleep in no time and this was the dream he had. He thought he was standing in a dark, dingy room "admits the whirr and clatter of many looms" with many "gaunt figures of weavers bending over their cases" They were tired yet worked hard and incessantly. "Their faces were pinched with famine and their thin hands shook and trembled." When the Young King asks one of the weavers who his master is, weaver cries out that he is just like him except that his master "wears fine clothes" while he himself "go in rags" The young king reminds him that it was a free land and he was no man's slave. To which the weaver replies that "in war the strong make slaves of the weak and the in peace the rich make slaves of the poor." He goes on to speak of how the poor are deprived and exploited by the poor by bringing out the bitter irony of how they "tread out the grapes and another drinks the wine." He then talks of the sorrow-filled life of these workers. At the end he states young king wouldn't know as he isn't one of them as his "face is too happy." Suddenly the young king realizes that the robe that these workers are toiling over is the very robe that is to be used for his coronation and "a sudden terror seizes him" when this is confirmed, he gives a loud cry and wakes up. Looking out, he realizes it was all just a dream and the all what he saw of the plight of those workers was just a dream. So he fell asleep again and had another dream and this was his dream. He thought he was "lying on the deck of a huge galley that was being rowed by a hundred slaves." By his side was the master of the galley who carried a pair of ivory scales. There were slaves who "stretched out their lean arms and pulled the heavy oars through the water" as the "hot sun beat brightly upon them and the Negroes
lashed them with whips of hide"
Finally they were close to shore when "three Arabs mounted on wild asses rode out and threw spears at them." The master of the galley shot one of them. His companions galloped away as he "fell heavily into the surf" The youngest of the slaves was lowered into the sea on a rope ladder and emerged a few minutes later with "a pearl in his right hand," At once, "the negroes seized it from him and thrust him back." Each time he came up he brought with him a more beautiful pearl while the master "weighed them and put them into a little bag of green leather"
When the diver came up for the last time, the pearl he brought with him was "fairer than all the other pearls." But just after doing so, he died and the negroes shrugged their shoulders and threw the body overboard. The master of the galley then laughs and announces that they found the right pearl for the King's sceptre.
The young king wakes up with a great cry thinking of how a life was lost just to satisfy his selfish needs for a beautiful sceptre. But...