Lady of Shallot

Topics: Life, Major Arcana, Knowledge Pages: 1 (336 words) Published: December 13, 2012
Much of the poems charm stems from its sense of mystery and elusiveness - of course, these aspects also complicate the task or analysis. That said, most scholars understood, the Lady of Shallot to be about the conflict between art and life. The lady, who weaves a magic web and sings her song in a remote tower, can be seen to represent the contemplative artist isolated from the Bustle and activity of daily life. The moment she sets her art aside to gaze down on the real world, a curse befalls her and she meets a tragic death. The poem thus captures the conflict between an artist’s desires, for social involvement and his/her doubts about whether such a commitment is viable for someone dedicated to art.

Part one and part four of this poem deal with the lady of shallot as she appears to the outside world whereas part two and part three describe the world from the from the Lady's perspective. In part one, Tennison portrays the lady as secluded from the rest of the world by both water and the height of the tower. We are not told how she spends her time on what she thinks about; thus, we too like everyone in the poem are denied access to the interior of the world. Interestingly, the only people who know that she exists are those whose occupations are most diametrically opposite her own: the reapers who toiled in physical labour rather than by sitting and crafting works of beauty.

Part Two describes the lady’s experience of imprisonment from her own perspective. We learned that her orientation results from a mysterious curse. She is not allowed to look out on Camelot, so all her knowledge of the world must come from reflections and shadows in her mirror. Tennison notes that often she sees a funeral or wedding suggestive of life and death for the lady. Indeed, when she later falls in love with Sir Lancelot, she will simultaneously bring about her own death.
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