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The Heroic Figures of John Keats

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Title: The Heroic Figures of John Keats
Authors: Kwak, Jeen Hee
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The term hero traditionally described a man whose superior abilities and character raise him to the level of god, demigod, or warrior-king: the hero of Beowulf and the knights of the Round Table, especially King Arthur of Le Morte Darthur, are the embodiment of heroic figures in earlier stages of English literature, whose courage and strengths are most pronounced on battle fields. But the term eventually came to include characters of not only physical strength, but of intellectual and mental strengths as well. This newer definition enables women as well as children to enter the scene and it indicates one of high moral character whose courage, physical exploits, and nobility of purpose make him or her singularly admired. However, in the works of John Keats, the majority of his heroes or heroines are neither superior in their abilities and characters nor noble in their purposes and actions: his heroes include a fallen god, whose seat and power are revoked, and who is sapped of strength and hope; his supernatural heroine is a serpent-woman who uses tricks and disguise to seduce a mortal man; and his mortal heroes and heroines are often driven away from home or driven to death by circumstances and by other people. If his heroes and heroines have anything in common, it is that they all experience and learn what it is to suffer and grieve. This suffering brings down the classical and mythic gods and goddesses from their immortal seats to the level of mere human beings, thus humbling their traditional almighty and infallible existences; they are humanized because they experience what are secular emotions, namely pain, sorrow, and grief--feelings generally excluded in the realm of immortals and reserved for mortals. And by allowing his mortal heroes and heroines to suffer Keats reinforces his belief that people in general do not find life perfect nor do they become entirely happy in this world, and that the greatest, and therefore perhaps the most significant, time human beings spend in this world is in suffering.
Pages/Duration: 53 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/31780
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English



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