Theme of Betrayal

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Discuss two examples of how poetry is used to explore the theme of betrayal.

Poetry is an opinionated, personal form of literature. It allows the poets to express themselves in a far more personal manner, without the harsh restrictions of narrative writing for instance. Poetry is praised for its aesthetic and thought-provoking qualities, over its intriguing narrative. Also, much poetry is ‘open to interpretation’, where the reader can make his or her own – subjective – views on the poem and the author’s intent. Poems often focus on a central theme, “The Sick Rose” by William Blake, and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats are two examples of this, which use ‘betrayal’ as a central theme.

The two poems differ in terms of tone and mood, although serve the same purpose; “The Sick Rose” written in a dark mood contrasts against “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” which is written in a playful mood. Keats begins “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” in a dreamlike tone, which changes to a solemn tone as a regretful realization occurs in the poem. Keats uses this to the effect that betrayal can often be surprising, that we are often unaware of the secret motives of others. Blake uses a different approach, using an accusing tone from the very beginning of “The Sick Rose”… “O Rose, thou art sick!”.

Both poets use imagery to reinforce ideas. Blake uses the image of a rose to represent a relationship. He accuses the rose of being “sick”, implying there is something wrong with it. Blake uses the image of an “invisible worm” as something unforeseen corrupting the rose (friendship), Blake also hints at an affair by writing “bed of crimson joy”. One could deduct from the imagery given that Blake is speaking of two lovers, one which has been cheating on the other. The use of “…in the night, In the howling storm” gives a dark, ‘raging’ atmosphere to the poem. Blake further hints towards this theory by writing “…dark secret love, does thy life destroy.” – here Blake has taken the effect of

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