– Compare and contrast the methods of seduction in La Belle Dame Sans Merci and The Seduction
– Compare and contrast the consequences for each victim of seduction.
The poem The Seduction is about a young girl who goes to a party. There she meets a boy who she believed she fell in love with. He took her to the quiet docks in Birkenhead where he seduced the girl by getting her drunk on Vodka. They end up having sex. Three months later the girl discovers that she is pregnant. She gets very angry and upset. In her rage she rips up all her magazines that led her to believe in romance and breaks the heels of her high white shoes, which she was wearing on the night of the seduction.
The atmosphere in the first part of the poem is unpleasant. ‘Blind windows’ gives us the feeling of loneliness, that nobody can see them as the blinds are down and people are ‘blond’ to what is happening outside. The atmosphere is also dark and dirty. The Mersey is described as being ‘as green as a sceptic wound’, which implies that the atmosphere was as polluted as the seduction itself.
The first paragraph of the poem is set early on a ‘Sunday morning’, this is a time when hardly anybody is around. Also the poem says ‘far far past the silver stream of traffic’, The repetition of ‘far’ emphasises the feeling of seclusion and loneliness.
The boy’s seductive plan begins at the party where he ‘danced with her all night’. He also spends the evening talking to her and bringing her drinks. This is to make her feel special, like he is so wonderful and yet is giving her so much attention. Bringing the girl drinks may also have been to get her drunk and so cloud her judgement. He made the girl feel even more special be stroking her ‘neck and thighs’ and kissing her.
After the party he leads the girl to a deserted place where he continues to get her drunk which would make her even more unaware of his true intentions. He then kisses her as she ‘stifled a giggle’. This shows that his plan has worked and she has been led to believe that the situation is romantic, like from a story from a teenage magazine.
The poem suggests that the boy had done this before as he was so confident and was able to convince the girl that he cared. The boy also seemed to know the perfect place to take the girl, a place where they wouldn’t be disturbed. Another reason I’m led to believe that the boy planned to seduce the girl that night is that he has a bag and Vodka with him, as though he is prepared.
When the girl realises that she is ‘three months gone’ she is angry and completely devastated as she realises the future she was so looking forward to will no longer take place. In a rage she broke the heels of her ‘high white shoes (as she flung them at the wall)’. this not only shows the girls anger but also how all of her pure ‘white’ innocence has been taken from her. This is also true when she rips up all of her photo-comics like ‘confetti’, as not only did they lead her to believe in a twisted kind of romance, but also it represents how she will never be able to get married knowing that she is pure and innocent.
The girl now knows that she had ‘missed all the innocence around her’, and is distraught. She is no longer the child that she was, not realising she was pregnant for three months and she is ‘truly truly frightened’.
She is not only scared at the thought of how grown up she will have to become, and how her childhood and been brought to an abrupt end by one stupid drunken mistake, but also on how society will judge her. How if she had been anorexic or destroyed her life in ‘modern man made ways’ that society would have been much kinder. Yet she is stuck with this for her whole life and it ‘sickened’ her ‘every morning’. the morning sickness would leave after the pregnancy but the thought of how she ruined her childhood through something so morose that she interpreted as romantic will always sicken her.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci is a ballad that tells the tragic love story of a knight seduced by a mysterious and evil fairy. The first three paragraphs of the poem are a mysterious voice asking the knight questions. The voice tells us that the knight is alone and appears to be ill and depressed.
The rest of the poem tells how the knight met a beautiful lady and how she seduced him as he fell in love with her. Verses 9-11 tell us of a nightmare the kinght has in which kings and princes warned the knight of ‘the merciless beautiful lady’.
As the knight answers the questions set to him in verses 1-3, the poem moves backwards to the summer as the knight explains how he falls instantly in love with a ‘beautiful’ woman he met in the ‘meads’. The woman’s femininity and he ‘wild wild eyes’ attract and excite the knight. It appears that although she is sweet and feminine, there is a wild secret side to her which only increases her appeal.
In the beginning of the poem the knight appears to be in control as he made garlands of flowers for the Lady, but he wouldn’t have done this if he wasn’t already greatly attracted to her which shows that she was infact in control the entire time as she seduces the knight.
The lady sings ‘a faery’s song’ to the knight, which suggests that is was something magical and may have been a spell to seduce knight. The mystical Lady also find the Knight supernatural foods such as ‘roots of relish sweet’. This food may have been part of the spell that the Lady was casting on the Knight, or it may have been to seduce him by implying that by loving the Woman he would have wonderful and supernatural experiences.
As a result of the Fairy’s magic the Knight falls asleep and has a terrible nightmare. He sees ‘pale kings, and princes too’ that are warning the Knight that he has been put under a spell by ‘La belle dame sans merci’ and had been captured by her. The Knight saw ‘warriors death pale’, which tell us they were the ghosts of the ‘faery’s’ other victims. The figures in the nightmare were starved and is a sign of the pain that the Knight would have to endure as a consequence of the seduction.
When the Knight woke he found himself all alone on the ‘cold hill’s side’. The Knight is now alone and near death, ‘lily on thy brow’, time has passed and it is no long summer. ‘The squirrels granery is full’ and ‘no bird’s sing’. the Knight has nothing more to do than woner aimlessly on the hill waiting for death.
In both ‘The Seduction’ and ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ the seducers are devious and conniving. Neither seducer really love their victim, the boy in The Seduction call’s the girl a ‘slag’ and the fairy in La Belle Dame Sans Merci leaves her victim alone to die.
Both poems use language that reflects the time it was written. The Seduction’s language is demotic everyday language, ‘about O levels’, whereas the language in La Belle Dame Sans Merci is romanticised older language, such as ‘lily on thy brow’.
Both of the poems use tools of seduction that reflect the time they where written. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci the Lady uses magic and supernatural foods to seduce the Knight, whereas in The Seduction the boy uses alcohol, which is modern and man made, to seduce the girl.
The settings of the seductions are different, yet in both the poet’s use nature to create the atmosphere. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci the seduction takes place in quiet deserted countryside. The seduction in The Seduction takes place at the quiet deserted docks. The setting in The seduction is man mase and modern, it is gloomy and dirty, whereas in La Belle Dame Sans Merci the seduction takes place in bright, natural countryside.
In The Seduction the boy is in constant control as he ‘led’ the girl to the docks and ‘brought he more drinks’. In contrast the control in La Belle Dame Sans Merci appears to shift from the Knight to the lady.
In both poems the victims have not only been cheated by people they thought loved them, but also by their own ideas of romance. They are both left all alone to deal with the consequences of the seduction’s. The girl is left ‘in the cool locked darkness of her room’ whereas the Knight is left ‘on the cold hillside’. Although these two setting are in completely different environments, the both leave the victims cold and cut off from the rest of the world.
In both poems it is suggested that life is over for the victims. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci the Knight has ‘a lily on thy brow’ which implies he is near death and in The Seduction the girls Childhood is over and she will lose the chance to experience many things that girls not in her situation can.