Why is The Douglas tragedy a popular ballad? – by Luciano Daniel Gercek The Douglas tragedy is a narrative poem arranged in the form of a ballad, for it tells a story. Besides, it is considered a popular ballad because it does not have an author. It also begins in media res, when Lord Douglas is awoken and urged to put on his armour in order to prevent his daughter’s wrongdoing – his eldest daughter, Lady Margaret, has eloped with Lord William. Both father and sons set off after her and stand a fight, where Lord Douglas and Lord William end up wounded. Lady Margaret has to decide whether she will run away with Lord William or she will stay with her father and she runs away, only to discover that the latter has been slain. They arrive at his mother’s house and die the day after. THEMES:
This popular ballad tells a story of domestic tragedy, violence and love, triggered by the engagement of a daughter in a forbidden relationship, and the subsequent death of the lovers.
There is incremental repetition in the first two stanzas: the pattern “Rise up, rise up” makes the story unfold, for it is a call to awaken Lord Douglas in the first stanza, and a request for his seven sons to look after their younger sister in the second. In the fifth stanza there is also incremental repetition: the imperative pattern of the first and second stanzas is repeated, with another request. There is structural repetition at the beginning of the sixth stanza – “O, there she stood, and bitter she stood” – the repetition of the structure adding a description of Lady Margaret’s mood. In the ninth stanza there is incremental repetition in the first and the third verses. The pattern referred to in the sixth stanza is repeated in the eleventh stanza – “O they rode on, and on they rode”, but this time structural repetition is not incremental, for there is no new information added but the image of their long journey. In turn, the structure of the whole of the eleventh stanza...
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