John Keats's Negative Capability Theory Essay

John Keats's Negative Capability Theory Essay

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There are a myriad of critical theory lenses that can be applied and utilized to closely observe pieces of literature. One of these theories is John Keats’s Negative Capability theory which consists of an idea of “…when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason…” (Keats 968). Ultimately, this signifies that, in poetry, the emphasis be placed on the significance of inquisitiveness and the asking of questions of the life and scenery around one’s self rather than employing importance on strongly searching for answers. This theory can be applied to a multitude of works, but for these sakes and purposes what will be critiqued is Samuel Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. Keats’s personal opinion involving this is that “…Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge” (Keats, 968). This elevated language is stating plainly that Keats does not believe that Coleridge exemplifies his theory in his works, and that Coleridge is always reaching for the full truth and never content with the unknown. Interestingly enough, this is not exactly true. Coleridge creatively does embody this theory, even if it does contains slight gaps. Though this work does occasionally disembody Negative Capability, through his content matter in Kubla Khan, Coleridge ultimately displays this theory through the opportunity for his readers to pursue the concept, as well as cultivating this theory a step further past Keats’s intents and purposes.
Kubla Khan contains an overabundance of descriptive language that creates a vivid, yet simultaneously fragmented picture within the reader’s mind; th...


... middle of paper ...


...orld where not only are the readers forced to become acquainted with this unknown dreamworld, but they are also associating this unknown with a sense of wonderful pleasure and magic. Overall, the instances where Coleridge does not exemplify Negative Capability are mundane when compared to the larger associations and ideas that he creates from Keats’s theory.



Works Cited

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “Kubla Khan.” The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ninth Edition. Stephen Greenblatt, eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 459-462. Print.
Keats, John. “Letters: To George and Thomas Keats.” The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ninth Edition. Stephen Greenblatt, eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 967-968. Print.
The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ninth Edition. Stephen Greenblatt, eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 460. Print.

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