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Discuss the Nature of Love as Presented in Keats’ Endymion

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Discuss the nature of love as presented in Keats’ Endymion

The poem “Endymion” by Keats presents multiple views about love. The plot itself is based off the quest of a mere mortal, Endymion, to find his love, the moon Goddess. Endymion decides to stop at nothing to find this love that he actually encountered in a dreamed. However, the reader is shown how loving a Goddess may very easily take a turn for the worst, as the author delivers examples of loved gods and goddesses from greek mythology such as Adonis and Venus and Glaucus and Circe. Putting the extreme presentation of sensual love in the plot aside, it is thought that Keats actually tried to express the need to accept physical love before spirituel love. It is believed that Keats saw love as the greatest form of happiness which he explains through “the pleasure thermometer”. “Endymion” progresses through a series of side stories and the main plot, linking them strategically to ensure the comprehension of the relevance of love. The first presentation of love in the poem is that of Endymion and Cynthia. This love seems almost impossible as the shepherd’s love emerges from a dream. When Endymion first “encounters” Cynthia, he gains the desire to find her as soon as possible, starting his notorious voyage. The journey can be analyzed as, not only physical but also, a mental journey to prepare him to attain his desire. From the beginning, the reader finds Endymion's quest for love far too imprudent, which in the fourth book is an enforced view, as the shepherd actually admits that he may be loving “a nothing”. This quote is in fact very important to the theme of love as it shows how deep down Endymion’s love runs for Cynthia, the moon Goddess. The shepherd continues his pursuit although he is nowhere near certain if what he is looking for even exists. Thus, his passion, love and courage are demonstrated through his mild naïvety. Endymion’s realization that happiness’ highest forms, love and unity, are only achievable if he manages to surpass many mentally challenging experiences, throughout his journey. Although he accepts that the truths he told his sister about love, in Book 1, must be accepted physically as well as mentally for them to be fully understood and embraced. In the fourth Book, Endymion decides to live as a hermit after falling in love with an indian woman, who later reveals herself as Cynthia. The moon Goddess showed herself after believing that Endymion successfully breached a spirituel barrier and was ready to embrace the highest form of happiness, love. Keats’ continues his presentation of love as he refers to the God Adonis and the Goddess Venus. This love is one expressed as very sexual and sensual. Keats’ merges the natural aspect of the passage with the characters to create a reflection of youth in the natural surrounding. He also compares the man in the description’s body to a god’s. “Not hiding up an Apollonian curve Of neck and shoulder”. This use of “Apollonian” successfully conveys an admirative tone as the author raises the man to a godly status. “Sideway his face reposed On one white arm, and tenderly unclosed, by tenderest pressure, a faint damask mouth To slumbery pout…” This quotation is significant as it shows the sexual relationship shared between Adonis and Venus. The author now enforces a delicate and relaxed tone due to the use of diction such as “tenderly” and “reposed”, yet manages to keep the passage very sexual due to the use of senses. Adonis and Venus’ love is very different to the spirituel one of Endymion and Cynthia as they are connected through a lustful bond. The final love story is the one of the fisherman, Glaucus. Glaucus, one day, fell in love with a sea-nymph, who fled at the sight of him. The upset mortal consulted the enchantress Circe, who felt unrequited love towards the fisherman, about his love for Scylla, in hope for help. So, Circe transformed the fisherman into a sea creature hoping he would stay with her in the depths of the ocean. Glaucus was originally content with his transformation into a sea creature and appreciated Circe for what she’d done, although, he still loved Scylla. Knowing this, Circe soon took Scylla’s life, leaving the fisherman in despair to live an eternally depressed life with the notion of being without Scylla forever trapped inside his head. “Twas freedom! And at once I visited The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed.” This quotation is a description of how Glaucus originally saw his transformation. It is very intriguing as it shows how happy Glaucus was with being bound to the sea, which makes the story even more tragic as overtime he learned to resent it. This love form is considered the most dramatic as Glaucus will always view his loved nymph as perfection, without ever being with her again. To conclude, I believe that John Keats actually based the three presented forms of love, in “Endymion”, on his own personal emotions concerning two women: Isabella Jones and Fanny Brawne. I am convinced that the first form of love that Keats felt was a very sexual and sensual one towards Isabella Jones. This love mirrors the one of Adonis and Venus presented in “Endymion”, as recovered letters to Keats’ brother George from him explain that the poet “frequented her rooms”, “warmed with her” and “kissed her”. The Endymion and Cynthia type love was one that Keats shared with his “star”, Fanny Brawne. The young woman, who loved Keats at the early age of eighteen, moved into the the other half of the building in which Keats’ family lived, mirroring a less dramatic form of Endymion’s journey to be with his Cynthia. The two, Keats and Brawne, became engaged after a few months due to their strong love, leading into the final presentation of love in Keats’ poetic romance. Still unmarried, Keats grew very ill with Tuberculosis. He was advised to move to an area with a warmer climate, so he did so. Keats moved to Rome, knowing he would be eternally without Fanny Brawne, alluding to the idea of long, lost lovers. This is reflected in “Endymion” as the author presents the sad story of Glaucus and mirrors his own sickness with Scylla’s death.…...

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