The Highwayman Poem

Topics: Poetry

This sample essay on The Highwayman Poem offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.

In this essay, I’m going to compare and contrast the two poems “The Lady of Shalott” and “The Highway Man”. I will be looking at their points of similarity and difference. “The Lady of Shalott” “The Lady of Shalott” is set in the fairy land of Shalott. She is a prisoner in an isolated castle with four grey towers and four grey walls.

There is a river which flows down to Camelott. The castle in which she’s imprisoned is on an island in the middle of the river. She is like a “fairy” – not seen by anybody. She has a curse placed on her. She can only look at the world in reflection.

She looks into a mirror and weaves a tapestry of the world outside. She sees the “highway near winding down to Camelott”, the red cloaks of market girls”, “a curly Shepherd lad”, a “long-haired page in crimson clad” and “the knights come riding two and two.

” Then she sees “Sir Lancelot”, a handsome, wealthy noble knight, ride “between the barley sheaves”. “He flashed into the crystal mirror”. “She left the web, she left the loom… she looked down to Camelott. Out flew the web and floated wide; the mirror cracked from side to side”. The curse was now broken.

She left the castle and found a boat “beneath the willow afloat”; she lay “robed in snowy white” in this boat and gently drifted down stream to Camelott and died.

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“They heard her singing her last song, The Lady of Shalott. ” “The Lady of Shalott” is mainly set in the day as she looks into the mirror at the pastoral world outside. It is also mainly warm and sunny. The weather changes (pathetic fallacy) – moves to night; she freezes to death.

What Is Contrast In A Poem

Lancelot is a noble knight, handsome, wealthy, honorable and has a high status. Lady of Shalott has a “lovely face” – “robed in snowy white. The Lady of Shalott dies peacefully, she just drifts off. She dies ‘by accident’ for her imaginary love. “The Lady of Shalott is divided into two parts – each a chapter of the story. It is very methodical – each stanza is nine lines. It has a very definite rhyme pattern. Every 5th line – “Camelot” – there is two exceptions – “Lancelot”; he disrupts the pattern of her life. This breaks the pattern. The 9th line “Shalott” – this echoes the gentle flow of the river – ever towards Camelot. Alliteration is used to give the sound of the gentle breeze; “willows whiten”.

Repetition is used to heighten effect “four grey… four grey”. There is very little ‘life’ (realism) about the poem but it is about a ‘fairy’ lady. There are only three examples of direct speech. There is very little by the way of imagery – “Like to some branch of stars” – simile. “Some bearded meteor trailing light” – metaphor with some degree of personification. There is the use of pathetic fallacy at the start of section IV, this is where the weather mirror events – “stormy east wind straining” but the death itself is peaceful, and so there is little ‘sound’.

The only onomatopoeia is “the mirror cracked” and this is at the dramatic climax of the poem; she has broken the curse and there is no going back. “The Highway Man” This poem is set in an isolated pub in the middle of the moors. It is as lonely and cut off as the castle of which “The Lady of Shalott” is imprisoned. There is a road outside the pub, just as by the river there is a road. In both cases the road brings destiny. In the pub lives Bess “the landlord’s black-eyed daughter”, Tim the Osler and the landlord. The Highway man rides down to the pub to see Bess, whereas in “The Lady of Shalott floats down the river to see Lancelot.

Lancelot is a law-abiding knight and the Highway man is a criminal but both look handsome. The Highway man plans to do a robbery and take Bess away to start a new life together. They seal it with a kiss which is real, whereas “The Lady of Shalott has never been kissed in her life. Just as “The Lady of Shalott” has a curse, Bess also has a curse, her beauty. Because of her curse she attracts the Highway man and Tim. Tim overhears the conversation between Bess and the Highway man. He tells the soldiers that the Highway man is planning a robbery. The soldiers have a few beers in the pub and go upstairs.

They tie up and gag Bess and put a musket up against her. They sexually torment Bess and behave like cowards. This poem is nearly all set at night – a time of ‘evil’ and it is cold, dark and windy whereas “The Lady of Shalott” is mainly set in the day and it is warm and sunny. Bess dies at night but the Highway man dies in broad daylight. The Lady of Shalott – female – has no name – gives title to the poem. The Highway man – male – gives title to the poem. The main male character in “The Highway man” is a criminal whereas in “The Lady of Shalott” the main male character is an honorable noble Knight.

The Lady of Shalott has a “lovely face” and is “robed in snowy white” and Bess is “black-eyed”; “long black hair”; “love knot”; “red-lipped”; “cascade of perfume”. In “The Highway man” Bess dies violently – bloody, where as the Lady of Shalott dies peacefully. Bess deliberately kills herself to warn her lover whereas The Lady of Shalott dies ‘by accident’ for her imaginary love. “The Highway man” is written in two parts (same as “The Lady of Shalott”) corresponding to before and after the robbery. It also has a regular rhyme pattern but the rhythms are much less even, suggesting the varying pace of action.

The Highway man” opens with a threatening metaphor “torment of darkness”. There is immediate movement “tossed” and the alliteration adds to the unease. The repetition “Riding, riding” suggest urgency, something relentless. There is much more life (realism) in this poem. It also has onomatopoeia plus alliteration “cobbles… clattered… clashed”. There is much more dialogue “one kiss my bonny sweetheart”. The use of punctuation devices; parentheses, dashes and exclamation marks adds to the reality of this poem. The use of italics adds emphasis to certain sections.

The characters are described in greater detail and the beauty of Bess, “the black cascade of perfume”, is in contrast with the unhealthy appearance of Tim, his “hair like moldy hay” (a very effective simile. ) The poem is good at implying things with a simple line; “they (Soldiers) kissed her” says a lot about their values and invites comparison with the behaviour of the highway man. I think that “The Highway man” is much more effective and moved me more because it is more realistic, where as “The Lady of Shalott is more like a fairy tale.

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The Highwayman Poem. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

The Highwayman Poem
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