The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott

Powerful Essays
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott

In this essay, I intend to examine the storylines, themes and language

of ‘The Highwayman’ and ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and then explain why I

think that one of the poems is more powerful than the other one.

‘The Highwayman’ is a love story full of romance and adventure. The

hero is the rakish highwayman of the title who dies for the love of

his mistress – the darkly beautiful innkeeper’s daughter, Bess.

The Lady of Shalott’ is a mysterious poem set in the mythical time of

legend Camelot. It is also a tragic love story in which the Lady of

Shalott, who is cursed to stay in her tower and not look out of the

window, dies for her love because she looks out of the window at Sir


The highwayman himself is a romantic hero of the 18th century. He is

very well dressed, with ‘a French cocked-hat on his forehead’ and

‘lace at his chin’. His ‘breeches of brown doe-skin’ fit ‘with never a

wrinkle’. He is a thief – the highwayman tells Bess that he will be

‘back with the yellow gold’. In addition, he is very daring. He could

be caught but still steals things and comes to visit Bess. This shows

that he is passionate about Bess. He loves Bess and promises her that

he will be back ‘though Hell should bar the way’.

Sir Lancelot is also a hero and a very brave and religious man as he

is ‘a redcross knight’. He is also cheerful because as he was riding

by the river he was singing ‘Tirra Lirra’. The writer does not

describe how Sir Lancelot looks in great detail except that he has

‘coal-black curls’ and a ‘broad clear brow.’ Sir Lancelot is a typical

romantic, Victorian hero.

Bess, the landlord’s daughter, has ‘long black hair’ and ...

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After examining both of the poems, I prefer ‘The Highwayman’ to ‘The

Lady of Shalott’.

Firstly, the main reason is because ‘The Highwayman’ is much more

dramatic and the storyline is much easier to follow than that of ‘The

Lady of Shallot’.

Secondly, I like Noyes’ use of language. He has used lots of similes,

alliterative phrases, personification and examples of onomatopoeia to

bring the ballad to life and give the reader a vivid image of what is

happening all the way through the poem. Although ‘The Lady of Shalott’

has many sensual images, much of the description of the surroundings

is left out which makes it harder to get a clear picture of what is

going on.

Finally, I think that ‘The Highwayman’ is a more powerful poem because

the pace is quicker than that of ‘The Lady of Shalott’, which has a

much slower and gentler, less dramatic pace.
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