Here are the study questions from the Eve of St Agnes by John Keats. There are two types of questions in this article: study questions and essay questions. Go through them and try to answer as many of them as you can so you can have a better understanding of the poem and get used to writing essays on the same subject.


If you need help with John Keats’s Literature, we have an in-depth course dedicated to him and his poetry, which you can access by clicking here.



  • How does Keats create an atmosphere in his poem? Use evidence to explain your answer, analysing any shifts in mood or atmosphere that occur at different points in the narrative. 
  • Find five quotations that describe the setting of the poem. For each one, analyse how and why it demonstrates the setting. 
  • How is Madeleine portrayed throughout the poem? Find evidence that she is a passive victim and evidence that she is an enchantress who actively draws Porphyro to her through the ritual. What is your overall opinion of her? 
  • How is Porphyro portrayed throughout the poem? Find evidence that supports his heroic status and evidence that suggests his villainous nature. Which interpretation do you agree with more, and why? 
  • How does the theme of the supernatural contribute to the story? Find evidence that the lovers are compelled by magical forces outside of their control and evidence that they are responsible for their own actions. Do you think they are subject to fate or do they have free will? Why? 
  • How are the other inhabitants of the castle described? Find quotations that relate to Madeleine’s family, as well as the other poorer members of the castle. Who, in your opinion, does Keats favour, and who does he dislike? 
  • Read about Keats’ theory of ‘negative capability’. How does it relate to the poem, and how does it change or enhance our interpretation of the ending?
  1. Tragic Elements in the Eve of St Agnes by John Keats


  • “The lovers are doomed from the beginning in Keats’ “The Eve of St Agnes””. To what extent do you agree? 
  • “Madeleine is depicted as a weak, innocent tragic victim” How far do you agree with the statement? 
  • Explore Keats’ treatment of the theme of love in “The Eve of St Agnes” and one other poem of your choice. 
  • Critically  examine the view that “Keats’ heroes are always tragically flawed.”