Keats and the Story of La Belle Dame Sans Merci

How does Keats tell the story in La Belle Dame Sans Merci? (21 marks)

Keats tells the story in the form of a ballad; he uses this as a way of simplifying the text so the masses could read it back when he was writing.   By doing this he was being imaginative and romantic for this is what the story symbolises. illusion, fantasy and courtly love are the main themes in the poem for it is set in the medieval era.  
Keats uses two narrators to portray these themes, a speaker in the first two stanzas then the knight in the remaining ones. He adds a fairy tale feeling to the poem by doing this as it opens with knowledge of where he is then jumps into the actual story but in the point of view of the knight. This adds a twist to the poem, makes it stand out and thus engaging the reader. The use of two narrators tells us that Keats wanted different views, symbolising the different perspectives which appears later in the poem too when the dreams come to the knight. Also the poem is circular because it starts and ends with the same three lines, Keats therefore treats it as an ever going narrative… is it the end? This also has a fairy tale quality. The story in the poem is told in ballad form with automatically gives it a rhythm. Each last line in every stanza has about four or five beats to it. This makes the poem a nice read and easy to follow which Keats wanted to create.
The use of illusion is very important as the knight is completely under a spell (“in thrall”) from this magical and “beautiful” woman. The way she enchants him and puts him into a deep sleep is deceiving the knight as he thought it was true love but in actual fact it isn’t. She seems to have no control of what she is doing and doesn’t want to do it as “she wept”. Keats makes the reader feel somewhat sorry for this woman but makes them realise she has tricked him once, she may be tricking him again… this character is not to be trusted and Keats tells the story in such a way that we have to stop and think...