The Lady Of Shalott Literary Analysis

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During the Victorian Era, ranging from 1837 to 1901, there was a resurgence of medieval themes and characters in popular media as England sought a foundation on which to build its empire. Just as the medieval time featured a shift from paganism to Christianity (epitomized by the tale of King Arthur; he, a Christ figure, vanquishes the pagan, Morgan Le Fay), the Victorian Era saw a literary shift from Romanticism to Gothicism. Where once nature and the heart ruled, the media of the time skewed toward sullen settings and morbid characters. A fascination with the pain and death of women evolved, society using tales of female suffering to heighten the perception of their frailty and establish patriarchal dominance. Masculinity and femininity were…show more content…
She engages in traditionally feminine activities including weaving and singing and does not stray from the boundaries set by the “four gray walls, and four gray towers” (Tennyson 15-16), noted by Stockstill to contain phallic imagery (Stockstill 14). She is held captive by the patriarchy. The ideology supporting the “angel in the house” archetype functioned under the belief that femininity and masculinity were two separate experiences and that one was inherently superior to the other. Through repetitive imagery, Tennyson implies the perceived inferiority of femininity to masculinity. The Lady weaves “by night and day / a magic web with colors gay,” (Tennyson 37-38) working for every inch of her tapestry that remains but a shadow in comparison to the outside world. Conversely, Lancelot prances into Camelot with the brilliance of a celestial body and no evidence of effort. While the Lady must fight for shadows, Lancelot is gifted with splendor. From his “gemmy bridle” (Tennyson 82) to his “blazon’d baldric” (Tennyson 87), everything about Lancelot is luminescent while the Lady’s riches are limited to her “magic web” (Tennyson 38) and her beauty, therefore confirming the Lady’s identity as the ideal Victorian woman who need only provide “‘virtue’ and physical beauty” (Perkin…show more content…
Having created the perfect woman, Tennyson could subvert the heteronormative rhetoric of the Victorian Era and allow the Lady to claim her power however, he refrains. Instead, “The Lady of Shalott” is a lament. As those in Camelot mourn the Lady, the audience and Tennyson mourn the rejection of femininity and the loss of themselves. The Lady is not a martyr for suffrage; she is a victim of the
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