Symbolism in "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" Essay

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Keat’s poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” is a dream-like journey symbolizing love as a cycle of life and death, in contrast to an idealism of eternal love. The theme of this ballad presents in imagery of haggard faces, and knights of old. A daydream on a hillside reflects on symbols of past experience, and the commonality of love’s experience. An indictment of women as a source of suffering exists here. Symbolism incorporated throughout the poem gives clues as to the true theme of this work: the acceptance of love’s ideals and its reality and mortality. Numerous symbols give clear announcement of the death theme present within the poem. Our knight is "Alone and palely loitering". The narrator asks: “O what can ail thee,…show more content…
A great deal of mythology incorporates love between mortals and gods. In light of the characterization of the Knight’s “lady in the meads”, it is clear that there are aspects of the supernatural assigned to her. She is an Aphrodite in this context. She even speaks a strange language as explained in the line “And sure in language strange she said – I love thee true.” (Penguin Academics) The gifts she bestows on him also bode of immortal theme. “She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, and manna dew,” (Penguin Academics) These things are not of reality but are symbolic of the feminine aspect of earth and nature. They are symbolic of the worldly view of love. This is in direct contrast to the chivalrous idealism exemplified by the knight. Here is the clash between the ideal and the real. The entire ballad serves as a warning that to assign the ideas of immortal permanence to human relation is a trap that has left many in sorrow. Even though he is warned, the pale knight cannot escape his state, nor have the legions of powerful men before him. “I saw pale kings and princes too, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; They cried- La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!” (Penguin Academics) The literal translation of the title is “The beautiful woman without pity” How appropriate a title considering the woman as a symbol of earthly love and nature. (Reyes) Our pale knight suffers needlessly because he lacks the ability to see past the
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