Eve Of St. Agnes Does Porphyro

871 words - 3 pages

John Keats' beautiful poem, "The Eve of St. Agnes," causes some disagreement among his readers. This work is often either interpreted as an enchanting love story with a fairy tale ending or the complete opposite, a story of deceitful seduction with a grave ending. However, "The Eve of St. Agnes" can be interpreted as a combination of these explanations. Porphyro neither seduces nor loves Madeline. He is, however, infatuated with her and unknowingly takes from her, her security and purity, resulting in a very unhappy ending.Porphyro is unaware that the night he chooses to visit Madeline is The Eve of St. Agnes. In fact, he asks Angela when the girls are weaving wool for St. Agnes (line114-117). Even Angela responds with, it seems, a sudden realization that it is St. Agnes Eve (118). If he did deliberately come to Madeline on the Eve of St. Agnes then the reader would understand that he did so to manipulate her. However, because this is not the case, the reader cannot assume that conclusion. It is true that Porphyro seeks Madeline out and comes to her home pining after her. However, the text provides clues that this behavior is not due to deceitful intentions, but to Porphyro's honest feelings for Madeline. For example, upon his entrance in the poem, he "implores all saints to give him sight of Madeline…that he might gaze and worship all unseen (lines 77-80)." It is immediately clear that he is obsessed with her. The fact that he wants to worship her and later on views her as an angel (line 222-225), reveals that he has an admiration and some sort of respect for her. This suggests that he is not corruptly and deviously planning to seduce her, because he could not do such a thing to someone that he both admired and respected. Instead, Porphyro's obsession with Madeline hints that he is infatuated. If it were true love that he felt then he would not idealize her so much but rather view her realistically, as a person with flaws. In addition, although, he speaks so highly of Madeline, giving the impression that he respects her, his actions speak otherwise. He does, in fact, sneak around at her home, persuade her nurse to let him see her, and then watch her without her knowing. His actions are very dishonest and very invasive, not the behavior of a devoted lover. Porphyro's behavior is very typical of someone who is infatuated; he is completely encompassed with her, yet he never considers her well being. He "loves" her because...

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