Applying Keats' Concept of Negative Capability To Appreciate Hemingway's 'The End of Something'
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Ernest Hemingway's "The End of Something."
The Romantic Poet John Keats wrote the following in a letter to his brothers, "I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, upon various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason"¦" (Keats 134). Understanding, Keats' concept of 'Negative Capability' is the key to appreciating Ernest Hemingway's short story, "The End of Something." To explicate, 'Negative Capability' is the notion that one should be comfortable with ambiguity. One should not, for instance, seek certainty or meaning where there is none. One should tolerate the in-between moments in life and, of course, in literature. This is not easy to do. Human beings by nature are compelled toward finding the answers, the solutions, the explanations to life's uncertainties, whether through piety, the scientific method or literary criticism, we seek meaning. The true artist, on the other hand, does not "reach after fact and reason," he/she does not capitulate to the desire to render reality in a "sensible" way. Hemingway, whether knowingly or unknowingly, embraced this Keatsian imperative. There are so many elements to "The End of Something" that do not have