In "The Eve of St. Agnes," how does John Keats connect the beadsman to the main story of the poem?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is one of antitheses: for instance, cold/heat and waking/dreaming. The central antithesis, however, is Madeline's spiritual passion for all things holy developed in contrast to Porphyro's physical passion for Madeline. The beadsman contributes to specific parts of these antitheses.

As the poem begins, the beadsman prays alone in the chapel surrounded by religious imagery, including a picture of the Virgin. His presence introduces into the poem the element of spirituality. Furthermore, the chapel is incredibly cold, so cold that even the chapel's statues seem to feel it. The idea of the cold, then, is also introduced very early. As the poem develops, spirituality is soon contrasted with physical desire and cold is contrasted with the warmth of Madeline's chamber. Finally, at the poem's conclusion, the beadsman sleeps, dreaming his own holy dreams forever, after the lovers have run away together.

komal16 | Student

in the beginning of the poem the beadsmen is portrayed as a very religious {incense, censer, rosary, virgin mary's picture} who seems to be praying for the baron and his friends who are involved in the pleasures of the flesh. the beadsmen holding his "rosary" is shown to be walking in the chapel with intense cold outside as well as inside the chapel {a hint of ineffectiveness of religion}. The beadsmen rejects the joys and is in isolation, as shown by the phrase "the joys of his life were said and sung". The others who are engaged in entertainment and earthly pleasures {music's silver tongue}.

it can be said that Keats tried to create a contrast through the religous imagery of the beadsmen with the intense cold outside probably depicting the cruel world. the cold outside also shows the cruel people "barbarian hordes/hyena foemen" in the castle.

luckyusman | Student

st Agnes connected beads man in this manner that beads man always pray to god for the forgiveness of the humanity and everyone in the poem has committed a sin like the beldame betrayed the people of the castle and the people of the castle have a cruel   attitude towards other so that's why the beads man is always praying.