“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes-Summary & Analysis

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About the Poem “The Highwayman

Poem TitleThe Highwayman
AuthorAlfred Noyes
Publication Year1906
GenreNarrative poem
Setting18th-century England
CharactersThe Highwayman, Bess, Tim the ostler, Trooper Black Bess, Trooper Smith
ThemesLove, loyalty, betrayal, sacrifice
Literary DevicesBallad form, iambic tetrameter, rhyme scheme, alliteration, assonance, imagery, personification, simile, metaphor

Themes of The Highwayman

The themes of the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes are:

  1. Love and Sacrifice ➤ The poem explores the deep love between the highwayman and Bess and how Bess sacrifices herself to save him.
  2. Betrayal and Tragedy ➤ Betrayal by Tim, the ostler, leads to a tragic and heart-wrenching ending in the story.
  3. Heroism and Romanticism ➤ The highwayman is portrayed as a heroic and romantic figure in the poem, highlighting themes of bravery and chivalry.

The Highwayman Summary & Analysis

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is a narrative poem that tells the story of a doomed love between a highwayman, or robber, and Bess, the daughter of an innkeeper. The poem is set in rural England in the 18th century, and it is told in a ballad form, with a regular rhythm and rhyme scheme.

The poem begins with the highwayman riding up to the inn where Bess works. He is on his way to commit a robbery, but he stops to see Bess and give her a kiss. They promise to meet again the next night.

The next night, the highwayman is ambushed by the king’s troopers, who have been tipped off about his robbery. Bess is also captured and tied up by the troopers. She knows that the highwayman is in danger, so she struggles to free herself. Finally, she manages to reach the musket that the troopers have left behind, and she shoots herself to warn the highwayman.

The highwayman hears the gunshot and knows that Bess is dead. He is enraged and grief-stricken, and he charges at the troopers. He is killed in the shootout, but he dies avenging Bess’s death.

Upon hearing of the highwayman’s capture and death, Bess is heartbroken. She takes her own life to reunite with her lover in the afterlife. The poem ends with a description of the ghosts of the highwayman and Bess, who are said to ride together on the moonlit moors. Their love story is tragic, but it is also a testament to the power of love and loyalty.

FAQs from The Highwayman

What is the story of the highwayman?

The story of The Highwayman is about doomed love between a highwayman and an innkeeper’s daughter.

What is the foreshadowing in the highwayman?

The red ribbon foreshadows a dangerous future for the highwayman and Bess.

Who is the highwayman poem based on?

The highwayman poem is based on the many highwaymen of 18th century England.

Why did Bess shoot herself in the highwayman?

Bess shot herself in The Highwayman to warn the highwayman of the danger and to die with him.

Is the highwayman poem based on a true story?

No, the poem is a work of fiction, not based on a true story.

Why is the highwayman called a dead man even before he had met his death?

He is called a dead man because he is an outlaw and is therefore always in danger of being killed.

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