The Hoodwinking Of Madeline: Skepticism In The Eve Of St. Agnes

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In “The Hoodwinking of Madeline: Skepticism in The Eve of St. Agnes,” Jack Stillinger discusses some possibilities of feminist readings of the poem. First, the romantic poem is about two young lovers—Madeline and Porphyro. Madeline dreams of her lover and her visionary imagination comes true as she wakes to find Porphyro present in her bed. The feminist presence of this poem and essay are pointed out by the internal and external conflicts of the dream and the world. As Madeline is mentioned as a saint and as Porphyro is seeking his heart’s desire of sexual encounters with Madeline, we discover that Madeline is an independent thinker as she decides to run away with Porphyro. The “hunter and the hunted” becomes present in the essay and poem…show more content…
Stillinger recalls Keats’s agnosticism sonnet and letter of “the pious frauds of Religion” (611), the hoodwink dreamer of the poem before meeting Madeline is the old beadsman, who is engrossed in an ascetic ritual and is separating himself from the joys of life: “But no… The joys of all his life were said and sung:/ His was harsh penance on St. Agnes’ Eve” (611). A feminist viewpoint of isolation is present. Madeline and the beadsman are both “isolated from the crowd and from actuality” (611) as they are concerned with prayer and a ritual; Madeline sets herself apart from the revelers in the poem. Feminism is associated with change and change is present and noted with Stillinger. He states, “It is a notable part of Keats's wisdom that he never lost touch with reality, that he reproved his hoodwinked dreamers who would shut out the world, that he recognized life as a complexity of pleasure and pain, and laid down a rule for action: achievement of the ripest, fullest experience that one is capable of” (614). Although the poem and the world’s reality is full of pain and suffering, we all have a purpose in life weather through a dream or through the
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