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 ...
... middle of paper ...
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
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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