Someone once said that true love is only an illusion and can never be achieved. This is evidently shown through many elements of the poem by John Keats, TheEve of St. Agnes. Much of this poem is about the imagination and how it canblind people and make them oblivious to the true events that are occurring. Wethe readers can see this very easily through the portrayal of one of the maincharacters Madeline.
The second main character Porphyro tries to authenticateher quest for a dream experience however ends up taking advantage of her whileshe thinks she is still dreaming. The poem does endorse how the power ofMadelines visionary imagination can influence her and the others around her,but also that happenings outside of the dream can cause the person in the dreamto be taken advantage of with out the dreamers knowledge. The truth is thatPorphyro knows exactly what he is doing and instead of doing things in ahonorable way, he decides to proceed in a dishonorable way and totally violatesher visionary imagination. The night that is being spoken of in this poem is anight of dreams and imagination. It is supposed to be a mystical night in whichyoung women have dreams of their one true love.Order now
Madeline takes this to a totallydifferent level in that she totally succumbs to the mystical ability of thenight and totally loses her mind. In that she doesnt even know if she isstill dreaming or if she is wake. Some interpretations of the poem say that sheis wake and know what she is doing. However, I believe the contrary that shedoesnt know what she is doing.
Hoodwinkd with faery fancy. (70) Mostof what she does is due to the mystical feeling the night causes. A mind canplay may tricks and the mind can make it so that it has no concept of time orwhether it is wake or still dreaming. One of the few times in the book that shesort of knows that she is wake is when Porphyro enter her room and tries to wakeher as gently as possible in that she never truly wakes up and remains in adream like state.
He awakes her very softly, He playd an ancient ditty,long since mute, /In Provence calld La belle dame sansmercy. (291-292) I find this to be quite odd because this poem is abouthoodwinking. Why would he do this to wake her sleeping? If you are hoodwinkingsomeone you are trying to dupe, trick or fool them and the only way thatPorphyro can do this is to keep her in a dream like state. This very softly andsweetly awakens her and now Her eyes were open, but she still beheld, nowwide awake, the vision of her sleep(298-299) This tells me that she is nowawake but in her subconscious she is still dreaming. She has no clue as to whatshe is doing at this point in time.
She truly believes that she is still asleepand she is just dreaming. After he has done the deed and she is still sleepinghe awakes her and she tries to him about here dream. Upon hearing this Porphyrosays, This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline (326) in an attempt to wakeher up so she know what she is doing. I think that he tries to do this so thathe doesnt look like the bad guy, in that, the only way that he can get abeautiful bride is by hoodwinking her.
Upon hearing this Madeline is verydistraught by this and she proceeds to say No Dream, alas! Alas! and woe ismine! / Porphyro will leave me here and fade to pine. —(328-329) All thishas happened after he has already violated her dreams and has done things thatyoung gentlemen at that time were not supposed to do. As Jack Stillinger saidWe must leave or world behind, where stratagems like Porphyros are frownedon, sometimes in criminal courts, and enter an world where in sooth suchthings have been (P. 75) All gentlemen were supposed to be honorable andwere supposed to address all aspects of their life in a very noble way. All thisevidently shows that a visionary imagination is so powerful that Madeline cannotcontrol it and Porphyro uses it to his advantage. It sure fooled Madeline intobelieving that she was still dreaming, and dreaming enough to not stop herselffrom running away this Porphyro in the end.
However at the end of the poemPorphyro never really wants Madeline to wake up. As Jack Stillinger saidMadeline never completely awakens from her fanciful dream; for she believesPorphyro when he tells her that the storm is an elfin-storm from faeryland (343) (P. 88-89) Prophyro would much rather Madeline live in a dreamstate then allow her to wake, to find out what he has done to get her to be hisbride. Thoughout the poem Porphyro tries to authenticate her dreaming experiencehowever in the process he totally violates her dreaming experience and he knowsexactly what he is doing. Angela whom he uses to get into her bedroom chamberalso seemed to succumb to the mystical power of the night. This cannot happenedbecause she doesnt believe in the mystical powers of the night.
However whatdoes affect her is that Madeline believes in the night and is power and justthat belief in that power has influenced someone that doesnt believe in thenight, Angela. It doesnt help that the people who were supposed to watch outfor her and protect her didnt do their job and to me they seem senile, Angelaespecially. When Angela sees that Porphyro is there and has asked her to tellhim where Madeline is, she promptly replies, Get Hence! Get Hence! Flitlike a ghost away. (100-105) She basically tell him to leave right now becauseit is not right that he is there and he could get into big trouble if he isthere. Porphyro continues to stay there and talk to Angela. She eventually tellsPorphyro that Madeline is By the holy loom / Which none but secretsisterhood may see, / When they St.
Agnes wool are weavingpiously. (115-117) This defies logic because why does Angela tell Porphyrowhere Madeline is when he is not even supposed to be there. This starts to showthe effects of how powerful ones visionary imagination, Madelines, can affecta non believer, Angela Upon hearing this Porphyro comes up to at least what hethinks is a brilliant plan. He tries to talk Angela to lead him to Madelineschamber to which he is not supposed to go, so That he might see her beautyunespied, / and win perhaps that night a peerless bride, (166-167) A younggentleman should not be asking such a question. He is not acting noble. Angelaknows this but yet with very little convincing she decides to lead him toMadelines chamber and hide him in a closet.
Jack Stillinger points out thatThen Angela asserts a kind of orthodox middle-class morality: Ah! Thoumust need the lady wed (179) (p. 75) This shows to me that she knows thatit is wrong to do so, and thinks that everyone needs a wife. Yet I think thatbecause of the night and its mystical powers is why she unknowingly succumbs tohis pressure with very little trouble on the part of Porphyro. Angela has fallenunder the spell of the mystical night and she doesnt even know what she isdoing herself. Once again this shows how powerful ones visionary imagination caneffect anothers. While Angela is busy moving Porphyro around the house she isvery frightened.
She is very frightened about what might happen if she iscaught. I think that she doesnt stop due to the mystical power of the night. Angela acts Like ring-dove frayd and fled (198). Angela is actingcrazy and cannot stop, and she doesnt know what she is doing at all. Justlike Madeline in that Madeline, too, doesnt know what she is doing. ByPorphyro doing all his little deceptions, he is violating her visionaryimagination by just be even attempting to reach her.
This is quite unacceptable. We can just see how Madelines belief in the night influences the decisions ofothers around her. The poem tries to endorse the world of visionary imaginationor dreaming, however Keats effectively voids this out as shown through many ofthe examples illustrated before. What does come across is that the dream worldcan be spoiled by one very determined, conniving man, who will stop at nothingto try and get what he wants. That is a sexual experience with that he wouldprobably nor normally have any chance at during normal times. So he has to trickher into doing something on a night to which she seem to have no control over,on one of the most mystical night of them all.
The only reason that I can thinkof that she goes away with him at the end is not because she truly love him, butthat she is starting to realize what she did. Now the only honorable thing to dois go away with him so that she doesnt dishonor anyone. This is kind ofironic because it was the dishonor of Porphyro, which caused all this, and yetshe is doing the honorable thing. BibliographyPage Keats, John.
The Eve of St. Agnes. The Norton Anthology of EnglishLiterature. Vol II, Ed. MH Abrams, et al.
New York; Norton 2000. Pg 834-844. Stillinger, Jack. The Hoodwinking of Madeline: Skepticism in The Eve of St. Agnes. Twentieth Century Interpretations of the Eve of St.
Agnes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Pgs. 67-94Poetry