Cracking the Urn: master and slave in "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
In the "Ode on a Grecian Urn", the poet-speaker uses many tools to distance himself from the urn. Many critics have argued for Keat’s agreement with the urn, using the poet’s letters and notions of Romanticism as guide. These criticisms, though, falter once stronger interpretations enter. Pronoun usage--ye and thee-- strongly affect the overall meaning of the work and the last lines in particular. Keats, aware of this pronoun usage as it still exists in poetry but not spoken language at the time of the ode’s creation, uses it for conflict. Keats also employs pastoral tradition to set up conflicts between port-speaker and urn. Keat’s letters also point to a belief in experience over escape. All these approaches demonstrate the binary opposition the ode employs. Each force, the urn and the speaker, employ a conflicting argument. The speaker sees stilled time and mentions change, and the speaker sees the ideal and comments on pain. This multi-faceted conflict, though, travels past a simple disagreement. The master-slave interpretation sheds new light on this conflict and shows how the speaker can destroy the urn.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, Dept. of English.