Write about the significance of climaxes in Frost, Keats, and McEwan

By October 11, 2018 General Studies

Climax or anti-climax are two really important techniques in gaining the reader’s attention and moulding how the plot of a novel flows. These techniques are used to mark various moments in Enduring Love, in Keats’ poetry and by Robert Frost. There are many climaxes over the course of Enduring Love, and they are significant for the overall destination of the plot. The scene in the restaurant can be considered a climax, in which men come in wearing masks and shoot one of the guests, mistaking him for Joe Rose. This climax is important to the whole plot, as it marks a specific moment in the plot, which climaxes are usually employed to do.

This is the point where Joe realises that Jed’s threats of violence were not empty, and that his life is in danger. Therefore it is this seemingly near death experience which seems to spark the events of the conclusion to the novel. It is following this that Joe goes to buy a gun, and the final climax scene of confrontation occurs. Therefore the climax in the restaurant is significant to the plot of Enduring Love because it defines the end of the story, and this is a key point which McEwan marks with the climax of tension and the slowing down of time.

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A moment of anti-climax in Enduring Love comes when Joe and Clarissa have an argument in the apartment, which Joe attempts to tell from Clarissa’s point of view. The fact that Joe distances himself from his own point of view during the chapter detracts from the possible tension which otherwise could be created. The scene surely shows significance in terms of the plot of the book, in the way it shows the most defined moment of conflict between Clarissa and Joe so far in the novel, and is a clear moment of tension in their relationship in the novel.

The point of this anti-climax is to draw attention away from what could otherwise be seen as a specific meaningful moment. Rather McEwan decides to deliberately draw focus away from this moment, which therefore has the effect of blending the arguments and fractures between the couples together. In Lamia, the significance of anti-climax in the ending is important. Having built up the basis of their relationship over the whole poem, Keats ends it all very suddenly. Since protagonist of the poem seems to be the innocent Lycius, over who the reader can have little doubt, unlike Lamia and Apollonius.

The ending of the poem is the point where Lycius dies, however Keats chooses to speed up time over this period, which makes the ending anticlimactic. Once Lamia vanishes, Lycius does not die immediately, rather he goes to lie by the couch, however Keats chooses to skip through this part and instead the poem comes to an abrupt end. This anti-climax shocks the reader, and is important because Keats uses it to portray his message to the reader; love is fleeting and brief, and so it can vanish in the blink of an eye.

Therefore the use of anti-climax in Lamia is significant in conveying Keats message from the poem. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Keats uses climax to draw attention to one particular moment. It seems that climax comes in the dream of the knight, when he sees the visions of the pale kings and knights warning him about the woman. This is the crucial moment of the poem, and therefore Keats is making the warning the key message of the poem, which emphasizes his view on love and women: caution. The idea that women can have you in ‘thrall’ seems to be the key focus of the poem through this technique of climax.

The following anti-climax about the ending of the poem, which is merely the repetition of the first verse of the poem, detracts attention from the fate of the night. Instead Keats creates anti-climax about the close of the poem to further focus the reader on his portrayal of women. In doing this he establishes firmly that the real purpose of the poem is not to follow the cause of why the knight palely loiters, rather it is about understanding the nature of women. In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, there is a distinct lack of a climax, which is a theme through much of Frost’s poetry.

This is partly due to the length of the poem, however it is also related to Frost’s specific choice to have a lack of climax. The plot contains no action apart from the speaker’s horse shaking his harness bells, and even this is insignificant. Therefore the real focus of the poem is not about climactic action, rather it is about the thought of the speaker and what the poem signifies. Keats therefore deliberately creates a dull and anticlimactic ending, through his use of a repeated last line and monosyllabic choice of language, in order to force the reader to consider a deeper meaning of the poem, which it is believed talks about suicide.

A similar use of anti-climax is seen in The Ax-Helve, as there is little action of any excitement throughout the poem, and it ends in Baptiste’s speaking voice, rather than the narrator’s thoughts, which could create tension and excitement depending on what Baptiste says, however the fact that Baptiste is actually talking about very dull matters means it has the opposite effect. In this poem, Keats uses anti-climax in order to convey the uncomfortable feeling in the meeting between Baptiste and the speaker.

There is a lack of excitement for the reader to focus on, so instead they feel trapped in the poem, in the same way that the speaker is trapped in the room with Baptiste. However finally in Out, out- Keats uses climax to emphasize the point he is making about work. The moment when the saw seems to leap out of the boy’s hand is centralised because of how it is personified and given human characteristics. In doing this, Keats makes it easier for the reason to feel hatred towards work, because he anthropomorphises the saw.

The point of climax, therefore, is significant because it represents the meaning of the poem and its attitudes towards work. It shows that Keats sees work as an evil, ending the boys childhood early. This is expressed in a moment of anti-climax later in the poem, when the boy suddenly dies. However the end of the poem tells about how everyone ‘turned back to their affairs’, showing a lack of care and creating anti-climax. This is meant to emphasize the insignificance of the boy’s life, and the reader blames this on the result of work, and in this way Frost uses climax and anti-climax to mould the reader’s views on work.


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