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Research Paper | English Language and Literature | Turkey | Volume 5 Issue 12, December 2016
The Critical Analysis of The Poem Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats through Isers Theory of the Act of Reading
Ali Mohammadi Phd
Abstract: This study begins with critically accepted interpretations of the poem Ode to a nightingale, taken from established critical positions regarding Keats. It shall then move on to peruse Keats in a novel manner, adopting The Act of Reading theory of Wolfgang Iser as a working basis. Iser (1978958) states the fact that completely different readers can be differently affected by the reality of a particular text is ample evidence of the degree to which literary texts transform reading into a creative process that is far above mere perception of what is written. Ode to a nightingale is a personal poem that describes Keats journey into the state of Negative Capability. The tone of the poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats earlier poems and, rather, explores the theme of nature, transience and mortality, the latter being particularly personal of Keats. As with other Romantic poets, Keats focused his writerly attention on understanding and exploring beauty. For Keats, all things possessed potential beauty, and it was his job as a poet to find this beauty and capture it in his poetry. For him, identifying and understanding that which is beautiful allows one to become more acquainted with truth. Unlike some of his contemporary Romantic poets, Keats focused on common and familiar things in his poetic attempts to understand beauty. While Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote about intangible things, Keats focused on more immediate and identifiable things such as the cool dew of an autumn day. In his poetry, Keats attempts to identify and explore the beauty of common things by stripping himself of any personality traits that would potentially dictate his exploration. In this pursuit, he aligned himself with writers such as Shakespeare, whom he saw as being able to discover the beauty in mundane things because he didnt express preferences. This attempt to remove his personality from his pursuit of and description of beauty is a reaction to earlier Romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, whom Keats saw as having a sort of poetic obsession with beauty as it exists in the natural world. Therefore, the present study is an attempt to dissect Isers theory of The Act of Reading on Keats poem. In other words, this paper is going to present not only syntactic, but also semantic properties of Keats poem which hold the poems various sections consistent and coherent.
Keywords: act of reading, text, negative capability, beauty and truth
Edition: Volume 5 Issue 12, December 2016,
Pages: 1066 - 1073