Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Donald C. Goellnicht
The theories of Luce Irigaray and twentieth-century Keats scholarship share a concern with the representation of the feminine in a discourse which they, and I, believe is patriarchal, or masculine. Some critics interpret Keats in much the same way that Irigaray theorizes masculine discourse, namely, by claiming that the feminine is not accurately represented, nor is it valued, except for purposes of appropriation. Other critics find in Keats a representation of the feminine that attests to its autonomy. This thesis adds to the latter position by exploring the problematic nature of the discourse available to Keats, which does not allow for an autonomous figuration of the feminine.
The guardians of masculine discourse are members of the male reviewing public and consequently, Keats is caught between challenging a discourse that limits his poetic potential or success, and acknowledging that that same discourse puts food on his plate. This thesis explores how, in "The Eve of St. Agnes," Keats reveals a feminine language that exposes the limitations of patriarchal discourse. In "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and "Lamia" Keats expresses the conflict between the challenge presented by the incorporation of the feminine in poetic pratice, and the pressure exerted by the patriarchal community to reject the feminine as anything but a mirror of masculine desire. Keats's poetry reveals the limits patriarchal discourse imposes on the masculine, something unacknowledged by Irigaray or twentieth-century Keats critics.
Tsujita, Erica Lyrm, "A Horrid Presence: The Limitations of Romantic Discourse in Three Poems of John Keats" (1995). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7049.
McMaster University Library