Bright Star Essay

1223 words - 5 pages

In Bright Star, Keats utilises a mixture of the Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnet forms to vividly portray his thoughts on the conflict between his longing to be immortal like the steadfast star, and his longing to be together with his love. The contrast between the loneliness of forever and the intenseness of the temporary are presented in the rich natural imagery and sensuous descriptions of his true wishes with Fanny Brawne.

The structure of Bright Star is unique in that it breaks free of the limitations of the sonnet form, a form that is notorious for its strict and constrained nature. The rhyme scheme falls very close to the Shakespearean rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG, in which the last two lines represent the final heroic couplet. However, the rhyme of the ninth nine (‘unchangeable’) is never continued, as the eleventh line (‘swell’), which the Shakespearean form dictates should rhyme with the ninth line, doesn’t rhyme fully. These create a sort of volta effect, emphasized by the strong determined word ‘No’, and followed by a caesura to create a pause, emphasizing the new change. This creates a lean towards the Petrarchan sonnet form, in which the volta lies at the beginning of the sestet, rather at the heroic couplet of the Shakespearean sonnet. This is made clearer as the first two quatrains deal with the subject of immortality by examining the star and how it watches down on Earth, while the final quatrain and couplet, or the sestet, which now has the rhyme scheme of EFGFHH, deal with how Keats instead wishes to be with his lover instead. The effect of the merged sonnet forms creates a free and lively mood which feels unconstrained and more natural. It also makes the sestet livelier, not only due to extra rhyme which intensifies the emotion that Keats expresses, but also by allow more room to contrast with the first two quatrains. By breaking free of traditional restrains, Keats is able to convey his thoughts and feelings in more detail and with greater effect.

The symbolism of the star as an immortal, unchanging and permanent lone figure in the sky is examined by Keats to express his feelings on how he first considers how it might be like to be like a star. The opening sentence of the sonnet form talks directly to the star through the use of apostrophe when he declares ‘Bright star’, to create a sense of intimacy, which is furthered by the intimate pronoun ‘thou’. However, Keats creates a tone of jealousy when he wishes he were as ‘steadfast as thou art’, showing how Keats wishes not for the positive connotations and features of the ‘Bright star’, but rather for one of its less notable qualities of permanence and steadfastness. This is also examined in the simile of ‘Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite’, which references a solitary hermit or guru who meditates into deep philosophical insight. The use of this imagery shows how the star is solitary and alone, but also unchanging, due to the qualities of ‘patient’ and...

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