For Love of the King by Oscar Wilde
Author: Oscar Wilde
For Love of the King is a play written by Oscar Wilde as a personal gift to his friend, Mrs. Chan Toon, who was previously known as Miss Mabel Cosgrove. The play was written around 1894 or earlier. Mrs. Chan Toon had strong ties to Oscar Wilde and his family, having been brought up with Oscar and his brother Willie. Initially, she did not allow the play to be published, but eventually, an arrangement was made, and it is now being made public as part of an edition of Wilde’s works.
1. For Love of the King Synopsis
Set in the vibrant palace of the King of Burma, the story centers around King Meng Beng’s encounter with Mah Phru, a distressed girl, during a midnight visit to the Pagoda of Golden Flowers. They form a bond, and Meng Beng promises her two years of happiness in a hidden jungle villa. However, his royal duties and an impending marriage force him to leave. Mah Phru, awaiting his return, discovers his true identity. What will happen next?
2. For Love of the King Summary
The story is set in the palace of the King of Burma, where King Meng Beng is receiving ambassadors from the King of Ceylon to discuss the marriage of his daughter. The scene is vibrant and colorful, with courtiers, dancers, and musicians. The king decides to visit the Pagoda of Golden Flowers.
At midnight at the Pagoda, where people gather for festivities. King Meng Beng moves through the crowd unnoticed. A distressed girl named Mah Phru seeks his help due to persecution by villagers. He agrees to follow her to her hut in the forest.
They reach her humble hut in the jungle. The king promises to protect her and build a life together for two years, after which he mentions his fate will be death.
In the jungle, a half-Burmese, half-Italian villa stands with gilded roofs and golden bells. The surroundings are sun-soaked, and Burmese servants laze on the verandah. Meng Beng and Mah Phru, now with two children, enjoy a serene moment. Meng Beng tells Mah Phru that their two years together are almost over, and she is content. Unexpectedly, a letter arrives, summoning Meng Beng back to his royal duties and the impending arrival of the Princess of Ceylon. Meng Beng is distressed, promising to return soon. Mah Phru faints as he leaves. The scene ends with the melancholy cries of peacocks as the sun sets.
Mah Phru, watches and waits on a verandah for Meng Beng. Upon his return, she learns of his true identity as the ruler of the country and the death of the Queen. She pleads to accompany her sons to the palace but is denied by a wise old man. He orders preparations for the children’s journey while Mah Phru accepts her fate.
Later, Mah Phru seeks help from a Chinese Wizard, Hip Loong, who offers to transform her into a bird. After some negotiation, she becomes a peacock and flies to the palace. In the palace gardens, courtiers discuss the King’s impending death, and the peacock captures the attention of two young princes. The peacock appears to listen to their concerns about ruling and their desire to return to the forest.
The King’s health worsens, and the peacock flies back to the Wizard to seek a return to her human form. The Wizard obliges but warns her of the consequences. Returning to the palace, Mah Phru reveals herself to the King and dies at his feet, bringing him back from the brink of death. The story ends with the King standing tall, bathed in sunlight, as jewels glitter, birds sing, and the curtain falls.