This paper would seem to examine three literary works by presenting their most profound themes and imagery while at the same time comparing and contrasting them with each other in order to highlight their common factors and any self-evident flaws etc.
This paper would seek to examine literary works through the evaluation of their literary elements and would contrast a couple of works in order to determine their varying characteristics etc. The literary works that have been selected for the purposes of analysis include “the story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin, Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken and John Keats “When I have fears I may cease to be”.
All three works have different underlying tones and themes running through them which would be cross-examined for the purpose of this paper.
The first literary work; when I have fears that I may cease to be “is one of the more famous works of John Keats and was written in 1818. This poem centers on a number of concerns that are evident throughout the poem-fame, love and time. The poet is clearly expressing the lack of time which would constrain the time available to spend with those he holds affection for. Time and love are contrasted as two opposites as love cannot exist forever since man is bound by his mortality.
Imagery is used to express the feelings of the poet; “garners, grain”, ripened grain” which all reinforce the idea of the fulfillment of time. The harvest is being used as a paradox as though it is being used to express the completion and fulfillment of an activity; it is being used to define the completion of a certain activity it is being used to define the end of time as well. Images are presented which allow Keats to perceive the deeper meanings behind these natural or physical phenomena “huge cloudy symbols”.
Love is shown to be a cause of concern and confusion-it is actually as important an emotion as it is perceived to be or is just another feeling which has been given undue importance. His concern with time becomes even more evident by the end of the poem as there is a repetition of the word “when”. Love is given two qualities-the ability to change the entire world for the people experiencing this emotion and it is more of an involvement of emotion rather than of thought.
By the end, there is a feeling of loneliness and solitariness which become profound and the poet is on the verge of crossing the threshold. He experiences the love for fame and love itself fading away as he understands that these are merely feelings which hold no importance for the poet any longer as they do not hold the essence of immortality.
If the above poem was to be contrasted with the literary work of Katie Chopin, her story presents an element of death. Love, time as well but at the same time there is an ethereal quality about the feeling of freedom which is not evident in Keats’ poem. This story centers on the essence of time as well but in this story there is no lack of time but in fact an abundance of it. Time is perceived as the days of freedom; when the central character would be free from the bounds of her marital life.
Time is not seen as mere fulfillment but rather as the awakening of a new day-a dawn of liberation. The images that are used in this story promote a very different aspect of time “no one to live for in the coming years” “very elixir of life” which would result in her “body and soul being free”.
Hence, the melancholic tone which is evident in Keats’ tone has no place here as time is going to allow Louise the freedom she years for. She would now live ash she has wanted to live;”without a powerful will bending hers in the blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private life upon a fellow creature”. There is exhilaration as the character feels like a “goddess of victory” and for her the coming days is not bleak but holds promise of a life to be lived for herself only.
The feeling of excitement and delight on being free catches the attention of the reader as he is made to understand the extent to which this woman has been oppressed. She is a mere slave to her husband’s whims in a society which held women to be the more inferior gender-while men hold the dominant position.
Her love for her husband is also questioned as there more times when she did not love him than feel any love for him. Hence, for her this emotion holds no importance as such except as a mere memory of a man who did prove to be a good, kind husband but his domineering nature resulted in alienating his wife’s affections.
Keats’ experiences feelings of loneliness and solitariness which become prominent by the end are contrasted with the feelings of exhilaration and happiness experienced by the central character by the end of the story. What comes across is a comparisons of the way time and its finite nature or rather infinity can be perceived – it can either a promise of a new beginning or the fulfillment of an unsatisfied end.
The central character of the story is no longer bound by the chains which have caught Keats in their midst. Louise’s feelings of love are completely opposite to those experienced by Louise who does not feel that this emotion holds much significance for her while Keats world revolves around it to the extent that as he feels his time ending –he feels the importance rise even more. For Louise however, it did not constrain her world and in fact the end of it has completely liberated her.
The other poem which would be contrasted would be that of Robert Frost’ the Road not taken” –a poem which discusses the archetypal dilemma. It is the dilemma of life itself as all of us have to make a choice at some point in time. Such a choice which provides us with two options and then one is not provided with the opportunity to rethink the options. The paths may seem different but in reality the fact is that they amount to the same thing. The route that is taken by one is taken on the basis of accretion and choice.
This poem can be compared and contrasted to the previous two works- the story by Kate Chopin and John Keats poem. Keats’ poem is about the mortality and essence of time which is depriving him the leisure to experience the emotion defined as love. For him, time is scarce and as the end starts approaching closer, the need of fame and love become merely temporary feelings which cannot exist till eternity.
These elements are contrasted with the elements presented by Frost’s poem which presents man caught in a different conflict. A conflict which binds him to a different situation and position as the person cannot go back and can merely reflect. Hence, both of these literary works highlights different elements of anyone’s life.
One in which the person has to as yet start the journey and the other in which the person’s journey is reaching fulfillment. The element of regret and the melancholic tone can be compared as both poems show to have underlying tones of both.
However, while relates to feeling of one passing away the other is relevant to the constriction placed over one by the choices made by the person. Frost’s poem presents the dichotomy of life as the division of tow roads and the irrevocable choice that is made by one. The choice that is made by the poet is that of taking the less travelled route as it is the road which presents more difficulties but as the poet takes this road he is surprised to find that the two paths have the same consequences.
Hence, it shows that though a person might take the easier route in order to avoid the difficulties the two paths can have the same repercussions if the person is able to prove himself and overcome the difficulties. This note can be contrasted with that of the melancholic tone evident in Keats’ work which hints at the emotion that the poet himself is feeling as he believes that since fame and love are merely temporary, and since life itself is so short there is nothing worth the pursuit.
On the other hand, Frost’s poem hints at the fact that life is a journey and we have to begin with a certain choice and have to live up to the challenges represented by it. The only regret evident is the fact that we cannot go back and reverse the decision made. For him, the choice that he made did in fact make all the difference as his life was configured in that manner thereon.
In this poem, there is a certain element of freedom-of choice and will. The person has the option of choosing the path but there is a sense of finality which reverberates throughout Keats’ poem. He does not have an option of seeking his love as his time is running out and even fame is moving away from him. Hence, the tone of both of these poems is quite different on a number of levels.
The poem of Frost centers around the decision process of each individual which is an essential part and parcel of everyday life but the momentous decision that is being faced by Keats is one of the death itself and his self-reflection is somehow mirrored by the self-reflection of Frost as ell. Both are looking back on life and realizing that the choices they have made would affect them for as long as they both live.
Frost’s poem and the story by Kate Chopin also represent certain vital elements if compared would heighten the effect of each. The story represents the feeling of liberation that the central character feels on being released from the bondage of marriage.
The poet in the “Road not taken” is left with a feeling of regret since he does not have the option of going back and rediscovering what the other option held for him. The poet realizes that even though he made a certain choice, the fact that he cannot change will make this the biggest decision of his life.
The central character is also undergoing one of the most momentous experiences of her life but for very different reason. She is feeling exhilaration and no regret as for the first time she is being allowed to actually for herself. Unlike the poet in Frost’s poem, the central character of the story never did have the option to decide the way she wanted to plan her life as it was being done for her by her husband, And after his death, she finally has had the chance to make amends and realize what freedom can actually mean.
For her, her entire life has been the road which has been trampled on and been sought by many but she has never been asked if she wants to walk that road. Now, life is giving her a second chance to do so and this discovery has made the feeling of happiness kill her by the end.
The poem and the story use quite different imagery to portray their meanings as though one poem makes use vivid imagery of a person coming to life itself and the process of awakening, the other is that of the dilemma that binds us all.
These poems and story though portray quite different elements and themes, yet there are underlying tones which are all intertwined. Each of them questions certain human emotions while presenting vivid imagery which highlights these aspects of human emotions.
William H. Pritchard. “On “The Road Not Taken””. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of English. http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm.