The Similar Characters in: "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred Lord Tennyson and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes

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The poem The Lady of Shalott is written by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem is about a mysterious woman who lives in a tower and is very isolated from the rest of the world. The poem The Highwayman is written by Alfred Noyes. The main character is the very beautiful landlord’s daughter, Bess. Both the female protagonists are described as attractive, and they both prove themselves to be very brave. They each, in their different ways, die for love. Therefore they can both be described as courageous, but also perhaps slightly naïve? Both women’s lives end in tragedy.

At the beginning of the two poems, the atmospheres are similar in some ways, but different in others. We find out that both poems are set in the countryside, whether it is the ‘purple moors’ in The Highwayman or the ‘long fields of barley and rye’ in The Lady of Shalott. Alfred Noyes sets the scene in The Highwayman by using Pathetic Fallacy. He describes the wind as a ‘torrent of darkness’ and this emphasises the fact that it is a dark, stormy night. This makes the reader feel uneasy, as if something bad is going to happen. In The Lady of Shalott, Tennyson starts the poem by creating a peaceful atmosphere. He describes the wind as ‘little breezes’ which suggests very mild weather that is very tranquil. To emphasise the eeriness in The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes starts the poem as being night time, and this sets the scene as a place where potentially anything could happen. In comparison, Tennyson presents the Island of Shalott in daytime and this makes the island seem a calm place where nothing bad would happen. The calmness changes, however, when Tennyson describes the tower where The Lady of Shalott lives as ‘four grey walls’ and ‘four grey towers’, this suggests a home...

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...ndoubtedly brave, but the poem The Lady of Shalott, the Lady of Shalott does give up her life for someone who she has never even met, or talked to. This seems a very silly thing to do, as she was fully aware that she would be risking the curse.

The two females are both very tragic figures. They both can be described as foolish, but also both display extreme acts of bravery. I think that Bess is slightly more foolish than the Lady of Shalott, because Bess already had a loving family, and so, killing herself was rather selfish. Whereas The Lady of Shalott didn’t have much to lose in risking the curse, as she didn’t have any form of proper life anyway. Therefore, although I agree that both characters are tragic, I believe that the Lady of Shalott’s life was much worse. I feel sympathy for both women, who in their different ways, gave up their lives to pursue love.

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