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AQA AS LITB1 Narrative Poems: John Keats

Theresa Sowerby | Tuesday April 01, 2014

Categories: Hot Entries, Narrative, Analysing Narrative, Narrative Techniques, Poetry, Keats, Lamia, Le Belle Dame sans Merci, The Eve of St Agnes, Writing, Poetry Analysis, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB1, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level

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This guide has been written with the requirements of AQA Specification B AS Unit 1 (LITB1): Asppects of Narrative in mind, but almost all of the materials could also be used for any study of Keats’s poems, e.g. for AS or A2 coursework or unseen poetry appreciation.


The three set poems could be studied on many levels but, for the purpose of Unit 1, it is important that students keep their focus on the way Keats has used narrative, being aware of the methods the poet has constructed this, the likely effects on the reader of specific techniques used and the purposes intended. Some elements which contribute to how a story is told are plot, setting, narrative viewpoint, characterisation, dialogue, language, form and structure. As readers, we come to stories not with a blank slate at all, but with certain expectations based on past experience of story form and structure, as well as genre. It is a very familiar writing form and in its very familiarity lie interesting aspects for students to uncover. Also, the writer may confirm these preconceptions or challenge them by manipulating our response.

Aspects of Narrative Relevant to the Poems

The authorial voice is Diegetic – a Greek term meaning that the events are told to us by a narrator rather than being Mimetic – shown as action in a drama. The “diegesis? is the story-world. Within this mode of telling, however, there is room for complexity and variety. For example, it is important to avoid reducing the role of a third person narrator to one that is an unbiased teller of the events, and to be aware when the narrative voice is “in tune with? the voice or predicament of a specific character, thus altering the Centre of Consciousness. Use of dialogue, though limited, can also be significant. The structure of the narrative is crucial to its impact on a reader – is it linear and chronological or seen through flashbacks (Analepsis) or...

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