Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott is the story of an isolated woman who breaks free of her prison in order to enter the world around her. Through the use of vivid imagery and the strategic placement of words and phrases within the narrative structure of the poem, Tennyson builds a feeling of isolation and frustration within the Lady as well as the reader. As Tennyson contrasts the isolated life of the Lady of Shalott with the energy and vibrancy of Camelot, his story becomes an excellent example of Keats' idea of soul making.
Key Words- Camelot, island of Shalott, magic mirror, Soulmaking.
[...] Once she had made this decision it was inevitable that she would eventually leave the tower, even if it meant her death. In order to acquire a soul the Lady of Shalott had to experience human emotion and it was this emotion that drove her to seek out her love, Lancelot. I mean I began by seeing how man was formed by circumstances and what are circumstances but touchstones of his heart? and what are touchstones but provings of his heart, but fortifiers or alterers of his nature? [...]
[...] And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy, Listening, whispers “'Tis the fairy The Lady of Shalott.” (33-36) In addition to the language of the poem Tennyson uses the structure of the poem to further the contrast between the Lady and the world of which she has no part. Throughout the twenty stanzas of the poem, the terms Camelot and island of Shalott but more commonly Lady of Shalott, are repeated at every fifth and ninth line. [...]
[...] Her identity, which Keats also calls the soul, was made when the Lady allowed her to become a part of the world of Circumstances. Keats viewed this ‘vale of Soulmaking' as a necessary part of the human experience. According to Keats it is part of the natural progression of learning. will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that school and I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that School and its horn book” (370). [...]
[...] It is at the moment of her death that the Lady of Shalott finally enters into the world of the living. It is at this moment that Lancelot, for whom she had broken her curse and died, looks upon her with the compassion and recognition that she had wanted while trapped in her tower. While the other knights of Camelot “cross themselves for (166) Lancelot blesses her dead body. But Lancelot mused a little space; He said, has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott.” (168-171) Lancelot is accepting and recognizing the Lady of Shalott as a person, as a part of the world around him. [...]
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