What is the theme of the Sonnet ‘On Fame’ by John Keats

John Keat’s sonnet ‘On Fame’ is ridicule of those who try in vain to gain glory. A man pursues restlessly for recognition and reward. He is ever ambitious to win name and fame. He does not realize that all human beings are mortals. His life span is short. Yet he longs for fame. In this process, he fails to tackle the real problems of his life.

Man runs after selfish ends. He is entirely absorbed in achieving materialistic things. He wastes his time and life. He cannot enjoy the beauties and bounties of nature. His vain attempts deprive him of the pure joys of life. A rose spreads her fragrance and charm all around. If she gets detached from the stem, she is lost. A ripe plum cannot keep its bloom when it is separated from its branch.

The fairy Naiad plumbs the deep depth of the ocean to get some lovely things like gems and diamonds. She gets muddy pebbles for her stress and strain. Life is a constant battle. Honey bees gather around a rose. As long as man has life, he has to work hard for salvation. Narrow sectarian feelings should be discarded. What a person wants is not earthly fame but salvation and redemption. Our fame is nothing before salvation.

Also read: Critical appreciation of the sonnet “On Fame”