Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”

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  • Title: Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”: A Creative Writing Theory
  • Author(s): Ebtihal Elshaikh
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Theory and History
  • Keywords: John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale,” Sigmund Freud, Creative Writing, Fantasy
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2326-9952 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-1779 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Elshaikh, Ebtihal. 2018. "Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”: A Creative Writing Theory." The International Journal of Arts Theory and History 13 (3): 37-43. doi:10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v13i03/37-43.
  • Extent: 7 pages


This paper offers a new reading for Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” in the light of Freud’s theory of creative writing. According to Freud, fantasy is a defense mechanism people use to escape harsh reality. Creative people, like artists and writers, can bring this fantasy to the real world. The paper proposes that in his “Ode to a Nightingale,” John Keats offers a psychoanalytic explanation for creative writing very similar to Freud’s theory of “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.” In this ode, Keats postulates the real drive behind writing, the aim, and even the process itself. Keats suggests that writing can alter one’s consciousness and help him/her escape the miserable reality into a happy world of dreams. Keats’s world of fantasy is a type of what psychoanalysts call “defense mechanisms.”