British Literature II
12. May 2009
The Lady of Shalott Critique
Jane Wright gives a compelling and insightful critique of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott. The poem tells the story of a lady isolated in a tower weaving tapestry of what she sees reflected in a mirror. The real story is that of the classic conflict and relationship between art and reality. In her article titled “A reflection on fiction and art in 'The Lady of Shalott'” she explores the true meaning of the tapestry and the relationship represented in the story between and artist and their art.
Wright starts her critique with the Lady's tapestry which as she points out has been removed from reality three times. The Lady has been cursed to die if ever she chooses to turn away from her work and gaze out on the real world. When she makes the choice to pursue Sir. Lancelot she dies which has led previous critics to have suggested that the tapestry is destroyed as well. Such critics have come to this conclusion via line 114 of the poem “Out flew the web and floated wide;” Wright argues that this is a false assumption as it “Does not mention destruction--simply a movement in space.” She points out that the mirror which the Lady uses to see the reflected world and weave her web is not simply there for the sake of the story. The mirror is something weavers actually used to see what they were weaving as they looked at the back side of the tapestry. Wright then expressed the complex levels of reflexion other critics have drawn from the poem. Lancelot is reflected into the river which is reflected into the mirror which the lady then weaves and observes in the mirror. She notes that it is important that this is one way relationship, the lady is never reflected from the mirror into the river to be seen by those outside her tower. This Wright suggests relates to important ideas about poetry and fiction and the nature of the Lady's artistic expression, her...
Cited: Wright, Jane. “A reflection on fiction and art in 'The Lady of Shalott '." Galenet. 2003. 1 May. 2009
Tennyson, Lord Alfred. “The Lady of Shalott.” Norton Anthology English Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 2006. 1953-1958
Please join StudyMode to read the full document