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The Making of the Lady of Shalott’s Soul

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Bryn Mawr

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  1. Introduction
  2. The isolation of the island and its single inhabitant
  3. Tennyson's emphasis on the Lady's isolation
  4. Accepting and recognizing the Lady of Shalott as a person
  5. Conclusion: Keats' view of the 'vale of Soulmaking'

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. [...]

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