John Keats Exam- Tips and Hints
The Keats exam can be a tricky one to attempt, but with enough practice at exam questions (see previous page for plenty of examples), you will find this task a whole lot easier.
An enthusiasm for his poetry helps, of course, but if you find yourself in a situation of not really feeling affected by the poetry, following these tips is sure to help you along.
1. Plan. Build a rough structure of the essay and write down any thoughts that come into your head in case you forget them later on. It also helps if you're running low on things to say towards the end of the essay, because you can refer back and pick out things that are relevant.
2. When you come to write the body of the essay, don't be afraid to delve straight in with a bold statement. For example, if the question is asking you about whether there is any element of 'surprise' in the Eve of St Agnes, you could start with: "The Eve of St Agnes opens with the cold, and we are immediately plunged into senses: a theme which continues through the rest of the poem".
In this example, we're opening it up with the start of the poem which is fitting with 'opening up the essay', and gives you a great base to layer the structure and explore the question.
3. Always remember, throughout the essay, to argue every point in detail. Your sentences should have the following structure:
POINT: - make your point by being clear and don't generalise. Be positive and confident. NOT: 'It kind of means that....' or 'it sort of seems like....'.
QUOTE: - give the quote which is relevant to the point
COMMENT: - explain how that quote works within the text, and refer to how this answers the original question.
4. Use specific terms such as semantic field and synaesthesia. Also remember to think about the sound as well as the visuals: eg. sibilance and onomatopia
5. Give examples of oposities such as dream vs reality, cold vs warmth etc etc.
6. Give references to the bigger picture, the BIG ideas: Nature, Imagination, Half-states
7. Remember to add some context as well; how Keats's life influenced a particular line of poetry. You could also quote from letters.