keats Contexts

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  • Created on: 25-06-17 20:02


1795- Born London 31st October (Thomas and Frances Keats)

1803- School Revered John Clarke, Middlesex Enfield.

1804- Father dies mother remarries

1805- Lives with Grandma.

1806- Mother disappears

1810- Mother dies consumption. 

1811-Apprentice surgeon Dr. Hammond

1814- First poem 'On Peace' 

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1815- Surgeon's assistant Guy's Hospital 

1816- Meets Leigh Hunt. O solitude and Chapman's Homer. 

1817- Sees Elgin Marbles.

1818- Lake District/western highlands Scotland tour with Charles Brown. Brother George goes to America. Nurses Tom who dies, meets Fanny Brawne. 

1819- The annus mirabilis. Greatest poems engaged Fanny. 

1820- Severe hemorrhage. September sails for Italy. 

1821- Keats dies attended by Severn. 

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Romantic context


Between 1760-1848 (years of revolutions throughout Europe and America).

Keats is a second wave romantic poet. 

Inspired partly by Rousseau (French) preached freedom and the need to return to the natural state of man and Hegel (German) who expounded a system unifying man and nature. 

Reaction to Augustan period. Valued Industrial revolution and public/urban life. 

Romanticism favored untamed nature and private rural existence. Heart over head, emotion over reason and instinct over knowledge. 

Romantics commitment to the exploration and originality meant they often experimented with new forms of poetry. 

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Settings for romantic poetry were outdoors in unspoiled countryside. 

Traditionally poet season was optimistic spring, romantics favored melancholy autumn, finding it reflective of inevitable loss, i.e. end of life winter. 

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Platonic concept of inspiration by a muse. Inspired in an unconscious and organic way. 

Shakespeare is an inspiration. Pastoral poet and dramatist. 


Second generation mythology.  

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Fancy vs. Imagination

Rejected fancy and favored imagination.  

Fancy is a mirror, passively reflecting, imagination is an illuminating power.  

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Mystery and magic

Romantic philosophy: Not everything can or should be explained by logic or science. Destroys the awesomeness of rainbows. 

Magic and mystery feed the human imagination. 

Supernatural represents the power of nature and the fantastical world of dreams. 

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Gothic revival of late 18th century at same time. 

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Beauty, passion and free will were the Gods of romanticism and enslavement to any orthodoxy or another man's system was unacceptable. 

Left little room for Christianity. 

Own brand of Pantheism, very tree etc was inhabited by genuis loci or local spirit. 

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Romantic hero and heriones

Youthful romantic hero and heroine derived from the medieval court and Arthurian legends. 

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Revolution and independence

Change and the revolutionary spirit was in the air.

Western world in the early 19th century had recently been in upheaval, with the American war of Independence and the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. 

Romantic poets were typically supporters of liberty against any struggle against oppression.

Themes of resistance and revolution run through Keats poetry. 

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Literary Influences

The Elgin Marbles 

First displayed at the British Museum early 1817. 


Very versed in Homer, and a devotee of Chapman's translation of Homer's the Iliad and Odyssey. 

Odes were a classical verse genre which Keats adopted for his most famous poems. 

Dante Alighieri

Dante's La Vita Nuova was at the time one of the world's greatest romantic poems. Set in Florence about the unrequited love of the heroine Beatrice, who marries another man and dies at 24. It marked the transition between courtly and romantic love. 

Francesco Petrarch

Italian Renaissance poet, Petrarchan sonnet. 

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Literary Influences

Giovanni Boccaccio

Isabella from Boccaccio's Decameron. 100 stories told by Florentine nobles who left the plague-ridden city.  

Geoffrey Chaucer 

Wrote The Canterbury Tales. Keats like his gothic style and sympathy for broken-hearted lovers. 

Edmund Spenser 

Attracted to medievalism. He was interested in his depiction of beauty.

William Shakespeare

Insight into the suffering and contrariness of human experience. Read Hamlet 40 times.  Had an abundance of negative capability that was admired by Keats, Shakespearean sonnet. 

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Literary Influences

John Donne 

A poet of passion, secular and divine. Keats attraction was shown in 'On the Sea' and 'bright star' are the links to the female body and tract of land which Donne is famous for. 

John Milton

Hyperion influenced by Milton. But had to ditch it because of the excessive Miltonic influence. 

William Wordsworth

love of luxurious, complex language,  a fascination with contrasts, and a belief in the power of poetry to show the Pathos of an experience. 

James Henry Leigh Hunt 

Part of 'Cockney school' Hunts circle. (Shelley in it too). 

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