Analysis of Keats' "To Autumn"

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Analyzing and Interpreting Literary Texts: British Literature (239335) January 5

The use of rhetorical devices in John Keats’ “To Autumn” We all know that the autumn is probably the most ambivalent season of the year. People have more or less fixed associations with the other three seasons, but this is not true for autumn. Summer is usually seen as the warmest time of the year, the time of holidays and relaxation. Winter on the other hand is cold and hard but also the time of feasts like Christmas – a time which brings whole families together for a while. Spring finally is the season of hope; the nature wakes up from its hibernation, it gets warmer and people discover new or almost forgotten feelings for each other. But autumn differs from the other seasons. Almost nobody has a fixed idea of how an autumn can or will turn out. It may be a wonderful season full of warmth and colorful leaves, but it can also be cold and rainy, the season of poor harvests and depression because of the ending summer. John Keats describes this season in his poem “To Autumn” in a very positive, idealized way which will be pointed out in this essay. The whole poem is full of rhetorical devices. The first one is the poem’s name, “To Autumn”, which is a personification in itself, because here the autumn is addressed like as if it was a person. Of course a poem can only be dedicated to a human being and not to a nonhuman entity like the autumn. On the other hand the periphrasis “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” (1) makes clear that the autumn is not a human being and creates a picture of a very shady and opaque season. This idea is even underlined by the consonance “mists and mellow” (1). Maybe this description could be a sign for the autumn’s ambivalence because if something is at least to some extent hidden in the mist, it cannot be clearly identified and thus can be something nice or something less positive – like the autumn itself. However the personification in the title is...
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