The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats

Categories: LiteratureNovels

Keats involves the reader by creating word pictures and expressing details, which appeal to the senses. As the plot develops the characters are brought in to the story. The main character is Madeline. She believes in the superstition of St Agnes’ Eve. Therefore goes to bed early without eating, and always looks ahead or upward hoping she will dream of the man she would marry. Porphyro is another main character. He comes across to the reader as a hero. He also creates change (to the story and Madeline) and thickens the plot.

Porphyro was a young Knight tin love with Madeline. However, he was from an other family, and there was a feud between his family and Madeline’s family. “He thee and thine, both house and land. ” This is one of the similarities Keats’ poem has with Romeo and Juliet. Porphyro was in great danger being at the castle, but he did not care, and desperately wanted to see Madeline.

The fact that Porphyro was in great danger builds up tension, and increases interest in the reader. Keats builds on his narrative by adding a third character.

This third character acts as a go between with Madeline and Porphyro. This character is a Nurse, again very similar to Romeo and Juliet. Also dialogue is added. This dialogue between Porphyro and the Nurse helps to make Porphyro’s intentions clear to the reader, and reinforces the nature of the poem. It is a narrative. The Nurse has known Porphyro since he was young boy, therefore is willing to help him see Madeline.

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Although she is shocked at what he is planning to do “To ventures so: it fills me with amaze. ” She still helps him.

It is now not just Keats telling the story, but the characters too. The Nurse knows Porphyro is in great danger, and she has committed and offence by helping him. Keats always maintains authorial control of his poem. There are main places where he uses his words to instruct the reader, or even tell the reader something. “Now prepare” This builds up tension making the reader suspect something. The first part of Keats’s narrative Romantic poem is telling the reader of St Agnes’ Eve. When Porphyro finally gets to Madeline’s room, avoiding all danger the romance begins.

Porphyro’s intention at the start was just to see young Madeline, however his intentions increase. He is so serious about seeing Madeline he swears that he would never hurt her. “I will not harm her, by all the saints I swear” Swearing on the Gods adds to the danger Porphyro is in. Keats describes Madeline’s room to add atmosphere to the poem, “Triple arch’d there was. ” This Gothic image reinforces the medieval era of the poem, and paints a word picture involving the reader. “Fruits and flowers, and braches of knot grass” This detail amplifies the beauty of the poem and adds enchantment.

“Splendid dies” describes the magnificent explosion of rich colours in Madeline’s room. Again Keats paints a picture, and involves the reader. Keats uses the beauty of nature to describe the colours, “As are the tiger-moths deep damask’s wings,” The butterfly suggests elegance and charm. Keats spends a lot of time describing Madeline’s room, and Madeline undressing. This slows down the mood of the poem making it very exquisite. Madeline is so attractive Keats describes her “Hair a glory, like a saint, she seemed a splendid angle, newly drest!

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The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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