The Lady of Shalott and the Arthurian Myths

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DEEPENING INTO ARTHURIAN LEGEND

The lady of Shalott is a return to the Arthurian myths. The Arthurian legend belongs to the medieval literature and, more concretely, to the courteous novel, which is characterized for: - being cult

- having regular verse
- dealing with love and fantastic themes
- being staged by an acting alone hero
- having the woman as the key element
- having the goal of moral perfection

The topics of the courteous novel are based on the “matter of Britain”, a set of old Britain myths and fabulous elements with Celtic origin whose central axis is king Arthur and his court; the works inspired by them are grouped in the Arthurian Cycle, whose most famous author is Chrétien de Troyes.

Chrétien de Troyes was a French writer who, taking the world and the characters of the Arthurian court as the starting point, created in the 1177 two fundamental works: Yvain, the knight and the lion and Lancelot, the knight of the cart. Both novels are characterized for incorporating mysterious and supernatural elements to a dream reality where magic is mixed with real.

During the Victorian times the themes of medieval inspiration had a great popularity, on the one hand because of the inheritance of the Romantic poets, such as Keats with his La Belle Dame sans Merci, and on the other hand because of the adaptation of the most traditional poetic forms. It was also decisive for this medieval influence the need to escape from the Victorian society, which made poets travel to other distant times where machines, belonging to the Industrial Revolution, had not taken the world yet. Medieval environments offered, therefore, an idealized refuge full of virtues and serenity. In a common Arthurian romance it would be found why the lady is cursed, an explanation of this curse, the reasons why she deserved it, or the responsible of the situation. However, Tennyson does not show anything about that, pointing out, in this way, that the poem has other...
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