La Belle Dame Sans Merci revision notes

brief notes on character and form

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La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Like the Eve of St Agnes this narrative poem is written as a medieval ballad
o Centred around one event
o Simple language
o Minimal detail of character
Written in iambic tetrameter to follow the ballad form
o Written in 4 line stanzas
o The last line of each stanza is shorter than the others to call attention to it
There is structural repetition
There is incremental repetition
o A device used in oral poetry when a line is repeated only minorly changed
This is seen at the beginning at of each of the stanzas, beginning with
`O' or `I'
There is archaic and traditional use of language
o `O what can ail thee'
Opens with a framing narrative of an anonymous speaker addressing the knight to
enter the diegesis
Begins in media res
The first stanza presents a feeling of foreboding which is proleptic of the events of
the poem
o `and no birds sing'
The poem opens at the end of summer going to autumn
o Represents dying and the cold
Pathetic fallacy to represent the state of the knight
o `the sedge has wither'd from the lake
There is an ambivalent (undecided) ending
Refers back to the opening stanza and is almost an exact repetition
Returns to the framing narrative
o `and I awoke and found me here, on the cold hill's side'
Set in medieval England in a time of Knights and chivalry
Belle Dame
Mythical creature
o Met her in an unusual setting to it is believable she would be magical
`I met a lady in the meads'
`she took me to her elfin grot'
o `a faery's child' `her hair was long'
o `and her eyes were wild'
This last line of the stanza in the iambic tetrameter is shorter than the
others so calls attention to her wildness
Begins in the narrative being passive

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I made a garland for her head'
o `I set her on my pacing steed'
o Yet the characterisation of her wild nature opposes her passivity
Sexual imagery
o `and made sweet moan'
o `I set her on my pacing steed'
o `sing a faery's song'
o `full beautiful'
Becomes more active in the narrative
o `she took me to her elfin grot'
There is a votla face (when things turn around) and there is a
narrative shift
o `there she lulled me asleep'…read more


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