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AS and A Level: John Keats

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Keats and The Romantics

  1. 1 Keats, Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Shelley and Wordsworth are all poets associated with the Romantic Movement which made sweeping changes across Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century.
  2. 2 The term Romantic was used only in hindsight from the 1860s onwards.
  3. 3 Romantic writers were in sympathy with contemporary revolutions across Europe (e.g. The French Revolution) and elsewhere.
  4. 4 Romantic writers believed in making their work accessible, to speak to the common man. Much of Keats’ work makes reference to classical stories and myths.
  5. 5 Romantics shared a deep belief in the personal and the individual and a faith in the imagination, often referred to as ‘Fancy’ by Keats.

Keats’ Ideas and Expression

  1. 1 Keats expressed a belief in what he called ‘negative capability’ – or man’s ability to entertain contradictions in pursuit of a higher truth beyond logic.
  2. 2 Keats saw the ‘viewless wings of poesy’ or the imagination as a way of escaping from life’s sorrows.
  3. 3 In many of Keats’ odes, art is portrayed as a vehicle by which immortality is contained. In the depicting of sensuous experience, it simultaneously transcends it.
  4. 4 Look for binary oppositions in Keats’ work: the transitory/the eternal, the sensuous/the platonic, life/death, melancholy/joy. He believed that every concept contained its opposite.
  5. 5 Use Keats’ letters to supplement these ideas expressed in his poems. Many critics believe that they are equally important to understanding his ideas.

Five top tips for writing essays on Keats' work

  1. 1 Be sure to avoid description when you analyse the poetry. Discuss the poem/s in terms of concerns and techniques.
  2. 2 Address the wording of the title closely in your introduction, topic sentences and conclusion.
  3. 3 Embed quotations frequently to show a close knowledge of the text.
  4. 4 Use poetry terminology to demonstrate your understanding of poetic techniques.
  5. 5 Avoid going through poems chronologically – be selective and avoid narrating, describing or outlining the content without referring to techniques.

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  1. How is Romanticism conveyed in Keats To Autumn'?

    This is showing that what Keats is explaining is fruitful and full of nice, sweet things. This period of Keats life (1819) would have been emotionally straining for him. The year prior to him writing To Autumn, his beloved brother died at just 19. Also that same year, Keats met Fanny Brawne and they fell in love. Due to this, Keats may have been in a very emotionally confused state when writing To Autum. He would have been grieving the death of his brother and also having strong feelings of love and passion towards Fanny Brawne, after becoming engaged to her that same year.

    • Word count: 1013
  2. Is "To Autumn" by Keats a purely descriptive poem?

    This is showing that what Keats is explaining is fruitful and full of nice, sweet things. This period of Keats life (1819) would have been emotionally straining for him. The year prior to him writing To Autumn, his beloved brother died at just 19. Also that same year, Keats met Fanny Brawne and they fell in love. Due to this, Keats may have been in a very emotionally confused state when writing To Autum. He would have been grieving the death of his brother and also having strong feelings of love and passion towards Fanny Brawne, after becoming engaged to her that same year.

    • Word count: 1013
  3. Eternal Love Through Death in John Keats Bright Star

    He continues to state that if he ?has to live ever?, he would rather ?pillow?d upon my fair love?s ripening breast?. The ideas to be eternal and to love simultaneously do not go hand in hand. To love, one has to be human and therefore not an immortal, steadfast star. In the last line of the poem, Keats acknowledges that he would like to ?live ever? in love, but he has to be human in order to experience love, which hints that the love between Keats and Brawne will not last and will eventually fade away as time goes by.

    • Word count: 1240
  4. Write about how Keats uses places in telling of "The Eve of St Agnes".

    There is no warmth in the prayers offered by the Beadsman?s numb fingers or by the ?sculptur?d dead? and in this setting Keats could be suggesting towards the ineffectiveness of religion with the isolation and loneliness in the chapel. However, the gothic chapel does give the reader a slight sense of hope as there is reference to heaven, ?Seem?d taking flight for heaven?, as well as ?the sweet Virgin?s picture?; this creates a feeling of optimism for the poem and restores any expectations of the reader following this detached imagery.

    • Word count: 544
  5. On the Grasshopper and the Cricket from John Keats

    ?hot sun? and ?cooling trees? show a strike contrast, which indicates the reason why the chirping birds stop singing. However, The music of earth does not come to an end. Another voice is echoing ?from hedge to hedge?. The integration of movement and stillness makes the scene lively. Here, the author threw mists before the reader?s eyes and didn?t specify the source of the voice. That is the Grasshopper's -- he takes the lead In summer luxury -- he has never done With his delights; for when tired out with fun He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

    • Word count: 693

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