Dissertation > Literature > Chinese Literature > Literature Review and Research

On Mutability in John Keats’s Ode to Psyche and to Autumn

Author ShiJiaJia
Tutor PengYu
School Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords mutability Ode to Psyche To Autumn odes
CLC I206
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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Keats’s odes have been popular ever since their appearance. These celebrated poems attract people not only because of the aesthetic beauty but also the profound reflections they provide on life. They have also been favored by critics and tremendous studies and analysis have been given on various kinds of aspects. The most renowned odes are Ode to Psyche, On Melancholy, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn and To Autumn. The five odes were written in the same year with a short interval, so critics have been seeking the similarities besides their different contents, and found the shared tone and style and so on. The agreed theme of the odes is that the world of nature is beautiful, the realm of art and poetry is wonderful, but the human society is full of miseries. Mutability is also generally acknowledged as a central concern in Keats’s major odes. Critics have been studying the theme of mutability in On Melancholy, Ode to a Nightingale, and Ode on a Grecian Urn separately, but not much analysis have been given to Ode to Psyche and To Autumn. Thus the odes are not seen as a unit with the same mutability theme.Ode to Psyche and To Autumn have special positions in the odes. Ode to Psyche was the first written ode and was considered immature who did not attract many critics. It was generally considered a sign of Keats’s concern on human being’s inner world and a glorification of the immortal Psyche. To Autumn was the last written one and was considered the perfect one. As the best representation of the odes, it has been heatedly discussed ever since. Critics think it explains Keats’s virtue of beauty best and shows the circle of the rules of the nature. However, no one has ever put the two special odes together and discuss them. This paper makes a comparison study of them on the theme subject and gets the conclusion that they have the same theme of mutability.Mutability means the impermanence of things. It concerns about the limited, mortal nature of man and things. Though the generally recognized theme for the two odes (Ode to Psyche and To Autumn) is the pursuit and glorification of beauty and the melancholy and misery feeling of the author, this paper does not think that as the fundamental theme for the two odes but just an expression of Keats’s deep concern and awareness of the mutability nature of the world. By concrete analysis of Ode to Psyche and To Autumn and a brief review of the other odes, this paper gets the conclusion that: mutability is the theme of the two odes too and thus the odes become a real unit with the shared theme of mutability.

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