The Dole of the King’s Daughter Analysis

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This poem is written by the renowned Irish poet and Playwright Oscar Wilde. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880’s he became one of the London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1880’s. This poem was originally published in the Dublin University Magazine in June 1876. It was later revised for Poems in 1881.

The Dole of The King’s Daughter by Oscar Wilde Analysis

The poem The Dole of The King’s Daughter, casts a dark & ominous picture in the readers mind. The title itself suggests the predicament of the king’s daughter. The poem starts with on an eerie note. The narrator marks the number seven thrice denoting a certain type of darkness to the protagonist’s character. In other words, the poet draws a parallel between the King’s daughter and Satan. She is laden with seven sins that is to lie in her soul for eternity. The seven stars in the sky & the seven in the still water are the silent witnesses to the deeds of the king’s daughter. She has committed seven sins altogether & is bloodied by her malevolent deeds. The first stanza creates a tense & unsettling atmosphere with deep uncertainty in the reader’s mind. The reader gets acquainted with the darkest secrets of the king’s daughter.”Red roses are a symbolism for fragility as well as blood.

The king’s daughter has tender feet like the roses & likes to tuck them in her beautiful golden hair. These lines suggest that she appears to have a delicate & mesmerizing persona. Thus, nobody believes that she could be accountable for such evil deeds. It hints the reader to not judge a person solely on their face value, often there may lurk a monster behind the pretty facade. At the same time it also suggests that her entire being is stained with blood as she is a murderer. She is accountable for the death of seven men they include the knight, the Page, the lover & the four from the cardinal directions. Then the narrator proceeds to provide a vivid account of their deaths. The valiant knight who lieth slain/ Amid the rush & reed” these lines suggest that the knight who was among the first to pursue her met with his ill fate. He was slain and he fell upon the marshy ground surrounded by reeds to be fed to lean fishes for food. This suggests the extent of her inner dark & twisted psyche. It clearly depicts that the protagonist was a cold blooded murderer.


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The second in the lot was the sweet & innocent Page. He meets with the similar fate as his forerunner. He was also slain & especially dressed up in gold to be fed to the black ravens. Black raven’s are deemed to be the harbinger of pure evil. “Black, O black as the night are they” illustrates the darkness in the poem & this revelation is quite unsettling. The poem slowly goes onto unravel the darkest deeds committed by the king’s daughter. It is shown that her hands are bloody because she has murdered these men. The comparison that the poet draws between her hands and the lilies flecked with red creates a stunning imagery. It means that a person as beautiful and innocent looking as her is capable of such a heinous crime. The poem then proceeds with the death of the four more men all heading from the opposite directions. All these men are doomed for she is a murderer. She has the same plans for them & her device to dispose of them is similar to how she dealt with the Page. Meanwhile, these men head from all the directions and she takes her rest.

The most poignant death amongst all of them is the death of her true lover. For he had loved her with all his heart but he had to pay a huge price for his devotion. He dug a grave for himself And the remaining four this means that he committed suicide & she disposed the remaining four men in the same grave as his. The extent of cruelty and the heartlessness is appalling to the reader. It is indeed a dark poem marrying the dark world of a sinister person. There is no moon in the still heaven & in the black water, these lines suggest that even the heaven is petrified by her deeds. It can only be the work of Satan.

She is a demon in disguise of a beautiful lady. She has deceived these men and led them to their deaths. She has committed seven foul sins to stain her soul. The disappearance of the moon from the sky depicts the darkness that has befallen these men and the whole atmosphere becomes gloomy and dark. The one sin belongs to the lover for taking his own life. The rest of the seven shall always belong to her till the day she dies.

The Dole of The King’s Daughter Central Idea/Theme

The underlying theme of this poem is deception. It teaches the reader not to be deluded by the person’s appearance. The poem also goes onto explain in depth the inner psyche of a cold blooded murderer. The ominous deeds that are executed with such callousness suggests how cold heated & bitter was the protagonist. These men were unlucky & were easily lured into her trap. The mention of red everywhere symbolizes how bloodied her hands really are. She created a deception with her good looks & the men fell right into it. The black raven, the red flecked lilies are all  glaring examples of the ominous signs. The poem has a dark humor & sends a chill down the reader’s spine.

Thus, the king’s daughter is not so innocent as we deemed her to be. In the end, she is just a murderer with seven sins marking her soul. The poem also illustrates the fact that we are not trust easily. For people can let us down in many ways. In the end, the darkness is so appalling that even the moon is petrified to show up in the darkness. The poem ends on a darker note creating an unforgettable picture in the reader’s mind.

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