Tennyson's Lady

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24/4/2013
Tennyson’s Lady
Lord Tennyson was a famous and popular poet in England. For more than forty years- most of the Victorian era- Tennyson was the Poet Laureate, yet "The Lady of Shalott" was successfully published in 1839 and 1842, as an early work. This poem was written before Tennyson became acclaimed and popular. Without the aid of already established fame, “The Lady of Shalott” and Tennyson rose to become prominent characters in the English literary world, which goes to show how quintessential this piece of literature is. This work is an important contribution to British literature because of its representation of the Victorian notion of women and the resulting outlook towards home. It also leans towards Naturalism, which is another aspect of the poem. On a more personal level, readers are able to enjoy the poem because of its soothing and gentle “nursery rhyme effect” and the interesting yet tragic love story that Tennyson narrates. Within his poem, Tennyson conveys society’s view of a woman’s role during the Victorian era. Although he focuses much more on the setting and surroundings than the Lady of Shalott, she is portrayed as a beautiful woman who was the paragon of an ideal Victorian woman. She worked diligently, night and day, busy spinning her loom and creating stunning fabrics- glimpses of the real world which she could never see. Fated by the inescapable, mysterious curse, the Lady of Shalott cannot gaze outside upon the real world; instead she is limited to only “a mirror clear/ That hangs before her all the year” (46-47), which is her only window to the painfully diminutive planet she is just able to distinguish. While looking out her miniscule window to the world, characters ranging from market girls to long haired pages, all seem to be headed towards one destination: Camelot, the prestigious city of King Arthur. She is defined by and confined to her task which she begins to loathe with each...
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