Enchantress or Victim?—The Deprived Voice in “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad”

  •  Xin Wang    


According to the knight’s narrative in “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad”, “la belle dame” is a deceptive temptress, who has a mysterious tryst with him and forsakes him mercilessly. Apparently, in his narrative, he falls victim to the mysterious lady. However, the truth tends to be ignored that the lady is rarely heard in the poem since her voice of resisting the knight’s fantasy world is deprived and covered by his narrative. As to the motivations, critics usually attribute Keats’s deprivation of female voice to his fear of Fanny Brawne, his charming lover’s sexual beauty. However, a close reading of textual details in the poem provides more interpretations of the deprived female voice. First, through the deprivation, Keats suggests his resistance against the power of a female lover as well as a female reader, and thus exhibits his endeavor and ambition to establish a masculine poetic identity among women readers. Besides, it indicates his combat against the anxiety of influence from George Gordon Byron’s literary success.

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  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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