What does "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes symbolize?

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The thematic symbolism of "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes represents the actions of true love (whether wise love or not). A more subtle part of the thematic symbolism is the representation of the psychological sketches of both Bess and the Highwayman. The heroine, in love with a highway robber, finds a way to warn him that the militia has come for him and is lying in wait to kill him. Rather than see her love caught and killed, while the waiting red coats sleep, the heroine with the black eyes stands in the moonlight of the darkened window and turns one of the men's rifles upon herself. All the highwayman hears is a gunshot. All he sees is the form of an unknown woman dying in the window. He flees to safety but when he hears who died in the window, how and why, he gallops back for revenge on her beloved life. He is killed and through eternity he attempts without success to reunite with

the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

jagzsneh's profile pic

jagzsneh | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Its symbolic meaning would probably be that love is immortal no matter what may come in its way. The love between Highwayman and Bess was strong but they faced many obstacles too. Tim the ostler, King George's men ( red coats) etc. A balled or love poem a symbolic meaning would be probably nothing more than the immortality of love.

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