Vulnerability as a virtue in John Keats’s Hellenist poetry

Postgraduate Thesis uoadl:2874939 183 Read counter

Κατεύθυνση Αγγλόφωνη Λογοτεχνία και Πολιτισμός
Library of the School of Philosophy
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Giorga Dimitra
Supervisors info:
Mήτση Ευτέρπη, Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Δημακοπούλου Σταματίνα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Δεσποτοπούλου Άννα, Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Original Title:
Vulnerability as a virtue in John Keats’s Hellenist poetry
Translated title:
Vulnerability as a virtue in John Keats’s Hellenist poetry
Ancient Greek literature and philosophy articulate the irreducible link between vulnerability, eros and creativity. Diotima’s account of love in the Symposiumpresents an encomium to the transformative power of eros as a process of constant movement and becoming by opening one’s self and one’s need to another. The aim of this dissertation is to explore the ways through which John Keats retrieves vulnerability as an experience and virtue central to the erotic condition in his modern Hellenist poetry. According to Marina Berzins McCoy, to be vulnerable is to be “capable of being wounded” (7), thus Iargue that experiential language and imagery of wounding areimportant in Keats’spoetry pertaining to deeper questions about mortality, erotic suffering and other forms of human frailty. Keats’s erotic narratives such as Endymion and Lamiaemphasize the importance of vulnerability in obsessive love for the completion of the πάσχειν-ποιείν model which exists at the core of the Romantic philosophy. By examining the metamorphosis that the erotic experience engenders for the Romantic poet-hero, I suggest that the becoming of the self parallels the becoming of the poetic persona who aspires to assume a viable identity in the context of Romantic Hellenism. Eros as a mediatory force between mortals and immortals, the old and the new, compels the poet to acknowledge his belatedness as a lover of antiquity and a modern poet in the face of its enduring legacy.
My dissertation draws on the scholarship of McCoy’s study of vulnerability and Martin Aske’s approach to Keats’s Hellenism in the context of his belatedness. It also discusses the duality of πάσχειν-ποιείνas it has been conceptualized by E. DoukaKabitoglou as it pertains to the paradoxical nature of eros as a bittersweet experience. Nevertheless, this thesis proposes a new approach by studying Keats’s Hellenist poems so as to uncover the development of his thought and subsequent maturation with regards to his stance towards eros and vulnerability. I argue that whereas Endymion’s ending concludes with the ecstatic finality of the erotic experience, Lamia’s ending dwells in the uncertainty of such an experience disrupting the completion of the πάσχειν-ποιείν model. The dwelling on the process of πάσχειν suggests that eros remains a key constituent of Keats’s concept of Negative Capability encouraging a sense of indeterminacy and openness to the erotic experience albeit destructive and paralyzing. The lack and incompleteness which characterizes eros as an experience is never overcome but rather remains perpetually within the poet-hero compelling him to recognize his vulnerability in the face of the erotic experience. Ultimately, Keats urgeshis readers to come to terms with their own vulnerability by extolling the recognition and proper acceptance of the potential capacity to be hurt in any erotic interaction with the beloved Other whether it takes the form of his idealized muse or antiquity. Such an acceptance is important to the thriving of individuals and communities fulfilling Keats’s poetic ambition of “doing the world some good” (Keats 148) through his creative endeavours.
Main subject category:
Language – Literature
vulnerability, eros, Keats, Hellenism
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