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The Prisoner of Chillon: A Fable

The Prisoner of Chillon: A Fable


by George Gordon, Lord Byron

Analysis: Shout Outs

When poets refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Historical and Geographical References

  • François Bonnivard (1493-1571). Although Byron doesn't name the speaker in "The Prisoner of Chillon," it's clear both from Byron's letters and from another poem, the "Sonnet on Chillon," that his character is inspired by the historic prisoner of Chillon Castle, François Bonnivard (check out the "Intro" section for more on Bonnivard).
  • Chillon Castle by Lake Geneva: Chillon Castle is a real place! Although Byron takes some liberties with the facts when he says that the dungeon was under the level of the lake (line 116), he was mostly inspired by the real place when he wrote the poem. Chillon Castle is on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Check out the "Best of the Web" section for links to photos of the castle in modern times.

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