Le Belle Dame Sans Merci

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  • Le Belle Dame Sans Merci
    • Tragic hero / Tragic villains
      • The knight may be perceived as a tragic hero as he falls from a position of nobility and high status.
        • His progression through the tragic trajectory supports this as he is reduced to "alone and palely loitering" showing he has been stripped of gallantry and purpose
          • The knights portrayal as a tragic hero fulfils tragic conventions as the knight is presented as a person  of great social standing and moral character
      • The Belle Dame may be considered a tragic villain as she embodies an alluring 'femme fatal' facade which lures the knight into danger.
        • Her physical beauty masks her malevolence and danger - "full beautiful and a faerys child"
          • However, the Belle Dame may also be perceived as a tragic victim - "and there she wept and sighed full sore". This fluidity between the Belle Dame as a villainous instigator and an innocent victim subverts tragic conventions
    • Tragic flaws
      • The knight demonstrates excessive  pride, which acts as a barrier when interpreting the Belle Dame's actions and behaviours
        • "In a language strange she said I love thee" and "She looked at me as of she did love" showing the knight's pride causes him to believe the Belle Dame is displaying love towards him
          • The knight's possessionhamartias such as blindness and hubris fulfils tragic conventions as these cause the knight's downfall
            • However the poem subverts tragic conventions through the knights lack of anagnorisis. He recognises "La Belle Dame sans Merci thee in thrall" showing he  recognises he was seduced similarly to the 'pale kings and princes too', however fails to recognise the influence of his tragic flaws in contributing to his downfall
      • The knight is blinded by the Belle Dames physical, enchanting beauty
        • The knight seeks to enhance her beauty "I made a garland for her head and braclets too" showing he is unaware of the danger she poses as "her eyes were wild" presenting the Belle Dame as uncontrollable force
      • The knight isolates himself from reality and indulges in the Belle Dame's    manipulation
        • The knight is lured into the unknown which is symbolised through the wilderness - "She found me roots of relish sweet, and honey wild and manna dew"
        • The knight is presented as willingly accepting of isolation and deviation from established society as he "set her on my pacing stead and saw nothing else all day long"
    • Context
      • The poem was written after Keats brother died of TB. The repetition of 'pale' and references to 'anguish moist and fever-dew' may link to the illness
      • TB causes the breakdown of lung tissue, making the sufferer cough up blood. This may link within the poem to "I saw their starved lips in the gloom, with horrid warning gaped wide"
        • The context of the poem reinforces and fulfils tragic conventions as it creates greater pathos for Keat's own plight against illnesses which caused his death


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