Monday, March 22, 2010

La Belle Dame Sans Merci - Psychology of the Faery

First of all, La Belle Dams Sans Merci is probably one of my favorite poems, but that's also because I just absolutely love the Pre Raphaelite's and John William Waterhouse's paintings. Here's one that describes Keat's poem:
In terms of body language in this painting and the general tone of the poem, it seems like it is mainly the faery that is causing the temptation. In the painting, she is the one who is literally ensnaring him by wrapping her hair around his neck and pulling him closer. My question is: why?
I've never taken a psychology class, BUT...I think maybe she's going through that whole process that occurs when something really traumatic has happened, and so the people keep on having to relive it in multiple situations, hoping for a different ending. Like how some women with alcoholic fathers marry alcoholic husbands. I just wondered what had maybe happened to the faery before that would make her into a type of serial killer reminiscent of the prostitute-killer played by an uglified Charlize Theron in Monster.
Maybe she'd encountered another knight who had promised her love and instead had raped her and abandoned her or something else.
I know none of this can REALLY be said to come from the poem at all - but she does cry, and all of this does happen very quickly, and there are so many other knights that suffered the same I thought she must have SOME sort of motivation...

1 comment:

  1. Great reading, Liz--I too have often speculated about the pre-history to this poem: what exactly happens to make the Belle Dame into a seductress? It seems to me some answer exists in the poem itself: the pale kings and princes have all been in the La Belle Dame's "thrall," which the OED defines as bondage, captivity, enslavement. Perhaps this word has particular bearing on how the knight treats her from the outset? Does he, in other words, prefigure his own doom?