The basic narrative of the ballad is easy enough to understand, but critics have argued over the deeper meaning. However, the common agreement seems to be between unrequited or impossible love, (“La Belle Dame sans Merci, A Study Guide”), and how beauty (and/or love) gives meaning to life (Friedlander). It is said that Keats’ was fascinated by the self-destroying experiences of intense passion (“Elements of Literature”, 751), and this is apparent in “La Belle Dame sans Merci.”
The tone of the poem is melancholy, and by the use of imagery, specific word choice, and setting, the poem reflects the mood of the pallid knight. The setting itself takes place in two areas- the first in the present, which is late autumn or early winter, which is assumed by the precise imagery used, “sedge has wither’d” (line 3), “no birds sing” (line 4), and by the squirrel’s granary being full and the harvest being over (lines 7-8). The images portray a desolate landscape, with dead plants and little to no animal life; however the harvests, paired with the season, allude to the cycle of life and death. The second setting takes place in the knight’s retelling of his experience. It begins in...
... middle of paper ...
...he “palely loitering” knight representing death, old age, and the consequences of unobtainable lust.
"La Belle Dame sans Merci." La Belle Dame Sans Merci, A Study Guide. Michael J. Cummings, 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2010.
"La Belle Dame sans Merci." La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Shmoop University, 2010. Web. 17 Mar 2010.
Friedlander, Ed. "Enjoying "La Belle Dame sans Merci"." Enjoying "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," By John
Keats. Friedlander, Ed, 2005. Web. 15 Mar 2010.
Melani, Lilia. ""La Belle Dame sans Merci"." Brooklyn College, 19 Feb 2009. Web.
15 Mar 2010.
Elements Of Literature. Sixth. 1. Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 751. Print.
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