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Compare 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'Isabella, or The Pot of Basil'.

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Introduction

Natalie Ward Both the poems 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'Isabella, or The Pot of Basil' are by John Keats and are on the theme of love. 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' is about a knight who is not named and about a woman who seems in-human from another land. 'Isabella, or The Pot of Basil' focuses on two realistic characters called Lorenzo and Isabella. Keats has written in the literary tradition called Romanticism, which is where things are not explained and are just implied. La Belle Dame's appearance is described well: "hair was long... foot was light... eyes were wild". This is making the reader visualise what she looks like and we see that she is unreal and "a faery's child". Isabella's beauty is again emphasised by lists and repetition but unlike La Belle Dame, Isabella is a normal ordinary girl: "poor simple Isabel!" ...read more.

Middle

The narrator is asking why the knight is acting in such a strange and unusual way: "O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms", this question is the repeated in the second stanza because the knight has not answered. When the knight tells his story it is only from his point of view. Keats characterises Lorenzo by showing that he is very much in love with her: "And with sick longing all the knight outwear, To hear her morning-step upon the stair", but he is not confident enough to express his love to her: "Honeyless days and days did he let pass". His love is only shown through his feelings for Isabella. Like the knight in 'La Belle Dame', Lorenzo is unhappy in love but for different reasons but at the end of the poem this changes and Lorenzo becomes happy. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'La Belle Dame' we can only see the story through the eyes of the knight. The female is seen as evil but she may not have been really, the female might have just been unhappy and upset because she knows deep down they can never be together because they are from two different worlds: "there she wept and sigh'd full sore". She knows that they are attracted to each other but it would never work. Isabella and Lorenzo are attracted to each other's voice and know each other's movements well: "hear her morning-step upon the stair", Whereas the knight and La Belle Dame know nothing of each other. Therefore one relationship has quick movement of happiness, then happiness and the other is unhappy until they express their love later on. After Lorenzo and Isabella had confessed their feelings to each other they both feel relieved and fulfilled: "Great bliss... Great happiness". This repetition of the word "great" shows us that they are very happy and in love. ...read more.

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