Body Work: The Representation of Labouring Bodies in John Keats’s <i>Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil</i>


  • Maggie Hyslop Memorial University of Newfoundland


John Keats, Isabella, or, the Pot of Basil, labour, class, bodies, luxury, murder, ghosts, decapitation, anti-capitalist, Boccaccio, Decameron


This article examines the portrayal of labouring bodies and the work they perform in Keats’s Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil. Specific attention is paid to the ways in which the human body is physically affected by the work that it carries out, and to how the labouring body is valued or devalued based upon the relative physicality of its labour. The author also considers the extent to which the poem's divergence from its source material in Boccaccio's Decameron can be read as evidence of Keats's anti-capitalist critique of class structures.

Author Biography

Maggie Hyslop, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Maggie Hyslop is currently enrolled in the MA program in English Language and Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is particularly interested in horror and related genres, and has worked extensively on cultural representations of the figure of the zombie.