Exam Question (January 2010)
a) How does Keats tell the story in lines 68 to 170 of Part I of Lamia? (21 marks)
b) How far do you agree with the view that in Keats’ poetry, women are presented as beautiful yet dangerous? (21 marks)
Between lines 68 and 122 Keats predominantly uses dialogue to tell the story and from 123 to 170 he changes the style to more description based. The use of dialogue results in dramatic immediacy as the reader is involved in the progression of the narrative. However the description that Keats uses results in the reader having a more rich understanding of the narrative as it is being told from a third person perspective and in this case a much more vivid image of Lamia.
Opening the dialogue, there is an extended passage of Lamia directly addressing Hermes, through this Keats develops the manipulative character of Lamia as she begins with flattery, describing her dream of him as “splendid”, which is an example of sumptuous language, which exaggerates her attitudes towards him. It is made evident that she knows Hermes’ purpose at the end of Lamia’s discourse when she asks if he has “found the maid”, which the reader learns shortly after to be a rhetorical question, as it is by her powers that the nymph remains hidden. Therefore the question – and passage that frames it – must be to some ulterior motive, as usually blandishment is not without end. Hermes’ response is also full of flattery, he describes her as “high inspired” and “beauteous”, but it is the response Lamia desired to provoke, as he offers her “any bliss” she “canst devise”. Lamia immediately presses her advantage – reinforcing her serpentine nature – as she interjects, demanding him to “seal” his word “with oaths”. This act emphasises how she is unwilling to continue unless she is going to garner some advantage from this situation, a key aspect of her character. Keats then uses the dialogue to describe Lamia’s...