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The Eve of St. Agnes

The Eve of St. Agnes


by John Keats

The Eve of St. Agnes Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Would you agree with the critics who claim that this poem is "one long sensuous utterance… unhappily short on meaning?" In other words, is this just really pretty, without a whole lot of substance? For that matter, do you think this is a good poem? Why or why not?
  2. What's this poem about? We know, that's a super-basic question, but there's a lot of debate about this: is this a poem about romantic love? If not, what is it about? How do you know? 
  3. Does the St. Agnes' Eve ritual actually work? If so, how does it work? What makes it work?
  4. Is Porphyro a romantic hero or a deceptive jerk who wakes up his girlfriend from a really nice dream so he can trick her into running away with him? Why do you think so?
  5. Would you say that there's actual "magic" in this poem? There's a lot of supernatural-ish stuff floating around; how do you account for that?
  6. What's going on when Porphyro "melts" into the dream of Madeline?
  7. Does this poem have a happy ending? Why do you think so?

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