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The Ballad of Reading Gaol – Sound Pattern and Language

Sound Pattern

The main characteristics of the Ballad are:
- It is written in six-verse stanzas which make a regular stanza.
- It is full of repetitions;
- It tells a dramatic story in verse.

The rhyme scheme is A/B/C/B/D/B.

Alliterations:
- Verse 5: woman whom
- Verse 20: within another
- Verse 21: was wondering
- Verse 23: when whispered
- Verse 28: casque of scorching
- Verse 34: with wistful

Assonances:
Verse 9-10: A … cap was … head, and … step … and gay
Verse 49: some love too … some too long

Language and Meaning

How is the cell described? What effects does it have on the prisoners’ soul?
It is described as a Murderers’ Hole where Human pity is not a word of grace. In such a place it could have helped the prisoners’ souls.

What do the prisoners’ actions convey to the reader? What do these actions show?
They show the reality of life in prison which is not easy at all. They have to toil for their daily bread. Their actions convey to the reader the idea of a very difficult life where people are obliged to work very hard and no one cares if they suffer.

This human being Wilde talks about is a symbol of what?
He is a symbol of every man, since every man kills the things he loves, like he did.

Contextualization / The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Differences: there are no supernatural events. While the Mariner is the only one who doesn’t die, the Man is the only one who ends up hanged.

Similarities: the crowd’s souls are afraid and suffer like the prisoners’ souls. Their doom is in the ends of someone else.

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