Jennifer Hedgpeth’s Key Passage Analysis of Mary Robinson’s “The Lady of the Black Tower”

“Just now the Lady WOKE: — for she
Had slept upon the lofty tow’r,
And dreams of dreadful phantasie
Had filled the lonely moon-light hour”

While reading the poem, “The Lady of the Black Tower”, the frightful and powerful imagery gives the impression that the woman who is the focus of the poem is either crazy or suffering from a horrible nightmare. Towards the end of the poem the author, Robinson, reaches a climax where all the horrifying images off the woman’s lover come to a climax. After the Lady in the tower is led to a great hall filled with skulls and death Robinson reveals in lines 259-262 that it was all a dream. The passage reveals how the narrative nature of this poem makes it so easy for Robinson to twist the ending of this poem so that all of the scenes that happen in the poem believable because nightmares can happen to anyone.
The lines that were particularly interesting in the second to last stanza of this poem left such a lasting impression because it holds such a stark contrast to the rest of the poem. When it is finally revealed that, “she had slept upon the lofty tow’r, And dreams of dreadful phantasie had filled the lonely moon-light hour…” One theme that was predominately emphasized throughout this poem was loneliness, especially the loneliness the Lady felt while her lover was away and how she looked for him every day that he was gone. In line 262 loneliness is emphasized again by creating an image of the night being a, “lonely moon-light hour”. The detail of night keeps with the dark imagery in the rest of the poem but it makes it more realistic because typically, after a person is woken from a nightmare the moon is shining bright and everything else is lit by it.
Robinson uses the familiar subject of the nightmare to make this poem all the more terrifying. It was such a sudden transition from the nightmare to the reality that the Lady was in that made the lines so much more valuable to the poem as a whole. If these lines were never in the poem than no finite closure could be made for the Lady and her lover. After these lines are read the final stanza describes the woman and her lover together, it was all a dream it was all just a, “dreadful phantasie.” The simple nature of a nightmare is to play on people’s fears and the biggest fear the Lady had was to lose her lover and once she wakes she hears him and just like that, Robinson creates a more palatable but also haunting ending.

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