The Lady of Shallot(Synopsis)

Topics: Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti Pages: 3 (965 words) Published: May 6, 2013

The first four stanzas describe a pastoral setting. The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but little is known about her by the local farmers. And by the moon the reaper weary,

Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
Stanzas five to eight describe the lady's life. She suffers from a mysterious curse, and must continually weave images on her loom without ever looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island. She knows not what the curse may be,

And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
The reflected images are described as "shadows of the world," a metaphor that makes clear that they are a poor substitute for seeing directly ("I am half-sick of shadows.") Stanzas nine to twelve describe "bold Sir Lancelot" as he rides by, and is seen by the lady. All in the blue unclouded weather

Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
The remaining seven stanzas describe the effect on the lady of seeing Lancelot; she stops weaving and looks out of her window toward Camelot, bringing about the curse.

Illustration by W. E. F. Britten for a 1901 edition of Tennyson's poems Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
She leaves her tower, finds a boat upon which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving at the palace. Among the knights and ladies who see her is Lancelot, who thinks she is lovely. "Who is this? And what is here?"

And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
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