Hi all, hope your week is going well and you are managing to balance revision/naps/snacks/fresh air?
I will be in room 15 on Thursday during our lesson slot if anyone is free and wants to come in to go through anything. I just wanted to make sure you were confident on La Belle Dame and Coy Mistress. Below is an essay plan that I have put together to draw your attention to how you can incorporate the A02 methods and A03 context. I also attach the Coy Mistress slides that you were asked to go through independently.
Love, Mrs Taylor
How is tormented love presented in La Belle Dame Sans Merci?
- Intro – the poem is in the form of a medieval ballad ,there was a revival for this poetic form during the Romantic period – it typically presented ideas about unrequited love felt by a knight who was rejected by an unattainable woman. Keats presents the woman as a dangerous femme fatale who is responsible for seducing and destroying the knight – atypical for love poetry where often it is the woman who is subordinate to a man.
- The third person narrator in stanzas 1 -3 creates an objective account of the knight’s emotional desolation ( seasonal symbolism / deathly nature imagery / heavy liquid /l/ sounds line 2 . The 4th line is shorter (throughout- as it moves from iambic tetrameter to dimeter) imitating the theme of disharmony and lost love and the monosyllables ‘And no birds sing’ give a weighty sadness.
- Switch to first person narration of the knight in stanza 4 intensifies sympathy and understanding of his intense feelings of arousal and delight which prepare the contrast when he is later rejected ( line 20) elongated vowels & monosyllabic stressed sounds heighten his ecstasy ‘and made sweet moan’ She is presented circe like ( nymph/ seductress) ‘faery’s child’ who sings ‘faery’s song’ – enchants mortal souls. The religious imagery of ‘ manna-dew’ implies her heavenly guise and deception. He is passive and the focus on active voice ‘She took me’ ‘She found me’ places him as the object and vulnerable.
- The most compelling presentation of love as tormented appears in stanzas 9-12 in the corpse like imagery describing the male victims before him ( starved lips / pale/ death-pale / cold hill side’ uses deathly imagery to emphasise the cruelty experienced at her hands. The direct speech references historic victims of passionate love – how perilous it is. Alternatively, feminist readers have suggested Keats demonises women by rendering the men as victims and unaccountable. Or alternatively, the woman is a metaphor for marriage and the enslavement it enforces. This would tie in with Romantic ideas about freedom of the individual.
- Conclusion – the cyclical structure of the poem shows the knight trapped in his grief and rejection; critic has called he woman ” the object of his dread and fascination” – the knight’s torment is masochistic and perversely desired.