Sensuous Embodiment in The Eve of St. Agnes

Kathie Housser


This article explores the embodied language Keats uses in The Eve of St. Agnes to capture the senses and emotions of his characters within a framework of contrasts such as life and death, heat and cold, and youth and age. Through a close examination of these and related pairings, which are so effectively established in the opening forty-one lines, this essay highlights the sensuality of Keatss text, and focuses particularly on the often overlooked or ignored incipient sexuality of the young heroine, Madeline. By doing so, it demonstrates that the crucial scene between Madeline and Porphyro ought to be viewed as love-making between equals, rather than as a seduction.


John Keats; The Eve of St. Agnes; Madeline; sexuality; the senses; sensuality; the body; contrasts; religious imagery; Christian iconography

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