In Keats’ ‘Lamia’, the character of Lamia is presented as a tragic villain and a tragic hero in the preliminary stanzas. I will be exploring the different ways her character represents this trope and also defies it.
Lamia is shown to be villainous as she is motivated by her own cause and desires; she wishes to take her woman form again to be reunited with her lover. However, to reach what she wishes she turns the nymph over to Hermes in a deal that he will make her a human again. The nymph appears to resist, saying she “cowered, nor could restrain/her fearful sobs”. At being revealed to the world, the nymph is clearly frightened and enjoyed living invisibly. Her innocent demeanour being so horribly mistreated by Lamia, who uses the nymph to reach her own…show more content… This could relate to Keats’ own life and experiences with women as he plays on the dichotomy of women being either virgins or whores. Keats spent most of his life afraid, or suspicious of women. He gives us two women characters straight away – one being Lamia the demonic serpent, and the other being the beautiful, pure wood nymph. Keats uses this juxtaposition as a reflection of his own view of women either being awful or amazing – thus enhancing the idea that Lamia is the tragic villain in the tale. She is referred to as having a “Circean head”. In relation to Greek mythology, Circe is a sea-witch that tricks Odysseus’ men in the Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and turns them into pigs, she is seen as a villain in that myth. Therefore, this direct connection to Lamia being ‘Circean’ tells us she is a reproduction of that timeless character. There is a contrast between Lamia being a sea-witch, and the innocent wood-nymph, that highlights the way that Keats wants Lamia to be