Critical Essay on “The Highwayman”
“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes is a ballad about how Bess, the landlord’s daughter, sacrifices herself for the love of the highwayman. The poet describes the atmosphere of the moor by night and conveys the suspense of the situation when the redcoats come to arrest the highwayman. He does this by use of effective imagery, clever word choice, sound effects and rhythm.
The poem takes place on a stormy night:
“The wind was a torrent of darkness.”
This metaphor is effective in creating an eerie atmosphere as it suggests the wind is blustery and it is very dark.
The atmosphere is further developed with a description of the moon:
“The moon was a ghostly galleon.”
This image creates a spooky, mysterious setting. The moon was pale in the night sky and surrounded by a “sea” of clouds.
atmosphere was even more developed by a description of the road:"The road was a ribbon of moonlight"This suggests that the road was long, straight and it reflected the light of the moon. "This shows us that all his weapons are very well cared for and are shiny. Alfred Noyes uses clever word choice to describe the romantic figure of the highwayman. In conclusion, Alfred Noyes"tm use of imagery, word choice, sound effects and rhythm all help to create atmosphere and tension which makes "The Highwayman"tm a memorable poem. Alfred Noyes uses alliteration and onomatopoeia effectively to create tension in the poem. It also helps to add tension to the poem. The varying rhythm and pace also creates tension in the poem:"They stretched and strained in the darkness, and hours crawled by like years,Till now, on the stroke of midnight,Cold, on the stroke of midnight. Onomatopoeia is also used very successfully; it helps to add atmosphere to the poem:"tlot tlot, tlot tlot"This helps you imagine the sound of the horse"tms hooves against the cobbles. Even his weapons are clean and well looked after:"He rode with a jewelled twinkle,His pistol butts a-twinkle,His rapier hilt a-twinkle. He wore a "bunch of lace at his chin" which suggests to the reader that he is classy. "Over the cobbles, he clattered and clashed"The use of alliteration makes these three words stand out from the rest of the sentence. His coat is "claret velvet" which tells the reader he has a lot of money since claret wine is very expensive. The poem gives the indication that the highwayman is very particular about his appearance. When the highwayman discovers that Bess is dead he returns eager for revenge:"Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high"The way the punctuation and pace is set suggests that the highwayman is going very fast and that he is angry which helps add tension to the poem.