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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

"The Prisoner of Chillon" is a narrative poem written mostly in iambic tetrameter couplets. Before you yawn and click away, let us translate:A narrative poem is just a poem that tells a story (inst...

Speaker

The speaker of "The Prisoner of Chillon" is admirable in a lot of ways: he's courageous enough to face life in prison without batting an eye and he's willing to be martyred for his political belief...

Setting

The literal setting of "The Prisoner of Chillon" is a real-life prison on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. But in the world of this poem, the literal setting isn't as important as the emoti...

Sound Check

The poem is about a long, dreary, monotonous prison sentence for a nameless prisoner. The story gets more exciting than this (his two brothers die! a bird comes to cheer him up!), but the basic sto...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of Byron's "The Prisoner of Chillon" is, like so many titles, deceptively simple. At first glance, the title seems just to be a label that tells us what the poem is going to be about. But...

Calling Card

Byron was so fond of writing poems about angst-ridden heroes with shady histories who have problems with authority that readers and literary critics have actually named that kind of hero after Byro...

Tough-O-Meter

"The Prisoner of Chillon" isn't all that difficult on a narrative, or storytelling, level, but there are some tough vocabulary words that can trip up the unwary reader. In addition, the sentence st...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

Well, but there's no steaminess all in this poem. Plenty of anguish and despair, but no sex. If you want a sexy Byron poem, check out Don Juan.

Shout Outs

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...
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