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La Belle Dame Sans Merci Analysis

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Introduction

La Belle Dame Sans Merci 20th September 2008 La Belle Dame Sans Merci is an allegorical poem that uses folklore and tradition to represent ideas about life and impending death. These two contrasting themes are represented with the use of nature as a moderator for the author's imagery and diction throughout the twelve stanzas of the poem. We can relate the emotions conveyed by the young, dying knight to the author, who was also very young at the time and was dying of tuberculosis. Stanzas 1 - 2 Stanza one opens with an unknown persona in the 3rd person. This suggests an omnipresent, mysterious being that knows of the subject. The unknown person immediately addresses the subject as the 'knight-at-arms' who is 'alone and palely loitering'. This unknown speaker is an ambiguous character; he could be a mere passer-by that asks the knight 'what ail thee' or maybe a voice inside the knight's head encouraging the knight to pick himself up from a world 'where no birds sing'. The author uses the environment to describe the state of the knight, for example, the withered sedge could symbolize the knight's bad health. The second stanza opens, repeating the first line in the first stanza. The second stanza then goes on to describe the knight as 'haggard' looking in a world where the 'harvest's done'. This incremental repetition shows a different perspective on the knight. The first description in stanza one suggests a whole world that is beyond repair, but the second stanza describes a world that has once been a good place to live in as the 'squirrel' has filled his granary. ...read more.

Middle

It is there when she weeps as something has suddenly upset her. If the reader believes that the poem is based on rape then it could be that she cries of humiliation that she has been raped. Maybe she has been raped as the young knight is dying and wanted to fulfil manly needs before his demise. On the other hand, the reader may think that she is crying because her true love is dying. Maybe the potion that the lady made was to help cure him, or maybe it has done more bad than good for the knight. We can tell that he is about to die as in the ninth stanza, he is 'lulled asleep' and dreams the 'latest dream he ever dreamt'. This past tense suggests that he is writing this poem or stanza posthumously. Stanzas 10 - 12 The tenth stanza opens in the 'latest dream'. I believe this dream to be a recounting, both physically and metaphorically, of the knight's short life. He sees 'pale warriors' in the place he is in, all 'death-pale' suggesting that he is in a place of dead bodies, either a graveyard or the after life. He dreams of men of power 'kings, princes and warriors' which could suggest what his ambitions were. He then hears them cry 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', they have also been associated with the lady that the knight met in the meads. The 'starved lips' described in stanza eleven may suggest that the lady starved them or enchanted them in ways that malnourished ...read more.

Conclusion

Knowing that he was to die as both his parents died of the disease that he contracted, I believe the author predicts the worst for himself and over stresses the situation. He, as well as the knight, is in love whilst he is dying and also feels angry that his life and love is to be cut short. Again, this may be a tribute to his lover as the poem conveys a message that love can even conquer death, and that his lover's love is helping him to live through his illness and dying process. My Response I think that the author has encoded his life into this piece and challenges the reader to look deeper into the poem to really find out more about his life. The poem starts off confusing, but as it progresses through its twelve stanzas, it becomes more clear how the author/knight is feeling and why. The morals that the author conveys are put across in exaggerated ways but with the knowledge of the author's illness, we can easily apply what is happening to his life. Whether he intends for the lady to be a person or just life itself, he loves it and proves that love is the most important thing in life. With this love of life, yet the anger of it being cut short so early, the author seems as if he can conquer anything, even a 'faery's child'. We can apply this in our day to day lives, whatever we want we can have if we love what we are trying to achieve. Max Winston 9WZ/En1a ...read more.

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