The Eve of St Agnes

1132 Words Apr 4th, 2007 5 Pages
Keats ' ‘The Eve of St Agnes ' explores forbidden love, and the belief that has become encompassed in this. With Porphyro being prevented from seeing Madeline due to a previous feud, she must believe that their love will become somehow fulfilled – and this is why she appears to participate in this romantic superstition of St. Agnes. Stanza XXXIV, describing Porphyro as "the vision of her sleep", appears to confirm Keats ' belief in the romantic ideal of St. Agnes, yet this is quickly dashed – "There was a painful change, that nigh expell 'd/The blisses of her dream so pure and deep". Porphyro can never live up to the heightened expectations developed in the dreams of Madeline, since as the critical extract details, Madeline prefers "her …show more content…
Indeed, her entire speech within the poem is negative, detailing how Porphyro is a "traitor" to the ritual of St. Agnes, since he is not the vision she had previously seen. Instead, Porphyro displays obsessive behaviour in the face of such negativity – hiding in a cupboard and laying out a full meal demonstrating behaviour "consistent with being a voyeur". Certainly, Porphyro 's speech patterns suggest an overexcitement perhaps brought on by unfamiliarity. Although this may also be brought on by the supposed consummation of their love, the splintered syntax of "This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!" suggests a certain desperation to convince Madeline of their love in spite of her obvious unhappiness. However, the castle 's becoming the "final tomb" of romance is alluded to directly after the sexual encounter between the two, with the suggestion that "St. Agnes ' moon hath set". The unsuccessful conclusion of the superstition appears to have led to the ritual 's death, and with Porphyro 's voyeuristic and obsessive behaviour, any notion of romance.

The two are also given many ghostly qualities. In particular, the repetition of the phrase "like phantoms" in the opening two lines of stanza XLI, coupled with the suggestion that they "glide", acts as a powerful metaphor for the ‘death ' of their romance. Together, their hearts have been ‘killed ' – Madeline 's by the
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