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Decide whether Keats creates sympathy for the Knight or The Lady and discuss how he does this.

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Decide Whether Keats Creates Sympathy For The Knight Or The Lady And Discuss How He Does This In this essay I will be discussing how Keats tries to make the readers sympathise with the characters in the poem. From my point of view I think that Keats tries to make you sympathise with both characters the woman and the knight in this play. When you read it the first time you only recognize one layer of the poem, which tells you about the suffering, the man is going through and how he is so depressed. The surroundings help to make you sympathise with him "And no birds sing". The surroundings create a mental picture of dullness and quietness in where he is. ...read more.


Firstly in this poem she has no voice. This in turn means that she cannot express herself like the mean expresses himself and his sadness. She cannot defend herself, as she has no voice. Because of this you can have many of your own interpretations of the woman in the poem. The woman in this poem seems almost to have a supernatural presence. Some things in the poem suggest this for example the first few lines describing her describe her as a "faery's child". Even her appearance seems to be supernatural. He describes her as having "wild" eyes. As she is seen as supernatural the readers would have less sympathy with her, as she may not seem human. ...read more.


And the dull surroundings have returned, "Though the sedge has wither'd from the lake". He seems to be "alone and loitering" in the end as he was in the beginning. But I don't think it is totally the woman's fault because he was a passive victim and he followed her as she led him. We may think that he is a victim of a supernatural person as she is often described like this. But when you think about it she hasn't committed a crime. She did make him happy even if she it for a while and you cannot tell that she was happy herself. She seemed to lead him instead of the other way round "She took me to her elfin grot" overall I don't think the writer creates sympathy for only one person but for both but it depends on how you view the poem. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a good essay that analyses a range of linguistic techniques and considers alternative interpretations, but it could improve by adding context and analysing in more detail. The student is right to consider how Keats creates sympathy for both ...

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Response to the question

This is a good essay that analyses a range of linguistic techniques and considers alternative interpretations, but it could improve by adding context and analysing in more detail. The student is right to consider how Keats creates sympathy for both characters, because it shows that the student is not being narrow-minded about the poem but is considering both sides of opinion. A particular strength of this essay is when the student says "This could mean that she is moaning in pleasure or it could also mean...", because it shows that they are aware that most aspects of literature can be interpreted differently. The student could improve by splitting the essay into more paragraphs - perhaps a paragraph for the Knight, followed by another for the Lady. This would reiterate to the examiner that the student is aware of alternative interpretations, and make it easier for this to be apparent. The student is also right to consider both these alternative interpretations, and discuss the techniques used, as the question is asking for both. Sometimes the question will not be so clear, so make sure you know from your teachers what is required in each section of the exam.

Level of analysis

This student analyses techniques used by Keats, such as the fact that "she has no voice", which is good because it shows they understand literary techniques and can identify them. The student could improve by analysing in more detail, and using slightly more technical vocabulary: for example, they could say "When characterising the Lady, Keats doesn't allow her to take the first-person narrative voice, which isolates her and evokes sympathy for her." Being strong on technical vocabulary would show that the student has a deep understanding of what poets use in their writing, rather than just a vague or general assertion, such as "The Lady doesn't speak" instead of "her lack of first-person voice...". If your course/teacher asks for it, you should always try to link your analysis to context, something this student doesn't do: for example, they could have mentioned that the lack of the woman's voice reflected the fact that women were seen as subordinate in early 19th century Britain. Top levels of analysis could point out that on the other hand, the woman possesses power because the Knight finds her "full beautiful", and this is a reason to feel less sympathetic for her. Taking a minute in the exam to think about new ways to analyse, such as this, will show you are thinking widely about the poem.

The student uses lots of quotes, which is good as it proves they are not just making general or vague assertions about the poem. A particular strength here is how they sometimes use the quotes in their own sentences, such as "He seems to be "alone and loitering" in...", because it shows they can combine their analysis directly with evidence, rather than just tacking it on to the end. The conclusion is good in one sense, as it directly answers the question and shows the student is on task, but it would be better to summarise some of the points already made to show that they can organise their ideas and back up their final judgement.

Quality of writing

The spelling, punctuation and grammar in this essay is largely excellent, which is good because it means the examiner can focus on the analysis and not have to work out what the student means. However, the quality of writing is let down by the fact that the student often uses the word "you", such as "But when you think about it...", which is inappropriate for an academic essay because it sounds informal. It would be better for the student to say "After a second reading, it could be interpreted as...", because not only is that more formal and appropriate for the style of writing, it gives another opportunity for the student to demonstrate that they understand different interpretations, which is a key part of the question. It would also be better not to use the word "I" in an academic essay, such as when this student says "In this essay I will be discussing how...", because it has an informal tone, and it also weakens your argument by making it sound one-sided and personal.

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Reviewed by lordharvey 26/06/2012

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