Women are also portrayed as seductive and treacherous as ‘La Belle Dame’ takes the knight to her “elfin grot” only to lull him to sleep and disappear. This image of women as cruel temptresses is further intensified throughout the rest of the poem, especially in stanza ten which details the enthralling and devastating power of women as “kings and princes too” – men of power - have been ruined by ‘La Belle Dame’ and left forlorn with starv’d lips which crave her love much like the knight himself.
‘Lamia’ does nothing to dispel the negative representations of women, as with ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’; Keats’ also makes use of femme fatal in ‘Lamia’. In the poem, women are portrayed as the serpent ‘Lamia’ - symbolically representing evil, temptation and deceit. Lamia hates her grotesque form and longs to be free from it however lacks the power to change it and therefore enlists Hermes’ help; this is significant as it highlights women’s reliance on men just as Lamia relies on Hermes to return her to her human form. With Hermes’ help, Lamia sheds her snake skin to reveal a beautiful woman; this could be an allusion to the fickleness of women, and their ever-changing nature represented by Lamia’s change in personality from melancholic and coy to confident and seductive. Lamia’s excessive beauty once again invites the image of women as temptresses seeing AS Lycius was immediately enthralled by her and referred to her as a “Goddess”. The representation of women as deceitful comes into play as Lamia deceives Lycius by creating illusions which, when unmasked by Apollonius results in Lamia vanishing and subsequently Lycius’ death.
The women in Keats poems inspire both feelings of attraction and fear in men and Keats essentially portrays women as a temptation that must be resisted, he shows this by harshly punishing the male characters as seen with Lycius’ death and the forlorn knight in ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’.
Tennyson breaks away from the archetypical portrayal of women as temptresses and perpetrators of melancholy and represents them as victims trapped in a situation and distanced from the world of action as seen in ‘The Lady of Shalott’. The Lady of Shalott is ‘embowered’ in a castle and forced to view the world from a magic mirror due to a curse placed on her, thus she gazes at the reflection as if it were reality. The Lady of Shalott is not given a name but is instead defined by the absence of man “she hath no loyal knight and true”