The Lady Of Shalott Essay Research Paper

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The Lady Of Shalott Essay, Research Paper What are the main themes in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’, and how are they presented? Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire on August 6, 1809. It was his father, Reverend George Tennyson, who initially educated him and recognised his poetic abilities, whilst he was still in his early teens. Tennyson wrote, The Devil and the Lady, when he was just fourteen. The atmosphere in which Tennyson was raised was one of bitterness and relative poverty. Tennyson lived an extremely troubled life; the death of his friend Arthur Hallam shocked him most profoundly. This grief led to most of his best poetry being written, including In Memoriam. It was the success of this and other poems that led to him being

appointed as Poet Laureate in 1850. He was finally established as the most popular poet of the Victorian era and wrote more than a hundred poems before his death in October 1892. In this essay I intend to look closely at his poem The Lady of Shalott. Tennyson wrote The Lady of Shalott in 1832. An example of Arthurian literature, it tells the story of a woman who lives in isolation in a tower on an island called Shalott. In this poem, Tennyson is very much the Romantic poet he admired in Keats and Shelley. The Lady, who could not be more unattainable, perfectly embodies the Victorian image of the ideal woman, virginal, mysterious and dedicated to her womanly tasks. A curse has been put upon her meaning that she must stay in the tower and not look down to the nearby town of

Camelot. The Lady of Shalott contains various different themes and ideas, which I feel that Tennyson conveys to the reader through the vivid descriptions and images that he uses. His keen interest in narrative is displayed in his poems, which tend to be romantic and provide an escape to a simpler, happier world. The Lady of Shalott and the poems within Idylls of the King take place in medieval England and capture a world of knights in shining armour and their damsels in distress. The Lady of Shalott is a 180 line narrative poem divided into four sections of nine-line stanzas. The four sections separate the important developments of the narrative making it easier to understand because it is set out more like chapters of a story. The rhyme scheme of the poem is aaaabcccb. It is

almost entirely composed in iambic tetrameter, except for the last line of each stanza, which is written in iambic trimeter. The fifth and ninth lines of almost every stanza end with Camelot and Shalott respectively. This constant repetition helps to establish the monotony of the Lady’s weaving. This repetition is only interrupted twice by the word Lancelot (in the fifth line of the ninth stanza and the ninth line of the twelfth stanza). I feel that this is meant to symbolise how the Lady’s new-found love for him brings to an end her task and allows her to escape the tower. I will now go on to discuss the themes within the poem and how they are presented. One of the main ideas within the poem is ‘isolation’. At first we feel that the Lady is happy being on her own in the

tower, and occupies herself by weaving a tapestry: There she weaves by night and day