Isolation In Alfred Tennyson's The Lady Of Shalott

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“The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Tennyson is a poem about a woman who is locked away from the outside world and only sees reality through her mirror. The use of symbolism contributes to the theme of isolation. The three major symbols that create the theme of isolation are the web, the mirror, and the location. The first major symbol that contributes to the theme of isolation is the web. The structure of the web develops the theme. The lady forms the tapestry by weaving the sights that pass by the mirror (line 37). The lady weaves the web to occupy her time since she has nothing else to do (T. Halliwell-Grove 62). Because the lady’s only activity is the creation of the tapestry, the web contributes to the lady’s loneliness. Another example of the web’s structure is its colors. The “magic web” is full of “gay” colors (38). The lady uses the tapestry to mimic the colorful shadows…show more content…
The first location symbol that creates the theme of isolation is the tower. The lady is alone inside the tower and cannot look outside (40-41). The tower is bleak with four “gray walls” (15). The lady’s home is equivalent to an impenetrable prison-like fortress (Halliwell-Grove 63). Because the lady’s home is like a prison, the tower symbolizes the lady’s isolation. Another example of the tower’s location is that the tower is away from the rest of civilization. The tower is on an “island” in the middle of the river (13). The river symbolizes the “boundaries … between life and death” (Fontana 112). The lady dies while on the river (151-52). Because the river leads to the lady’s death, it contributes to the theme of isolation. The final example of the tower is that it is silent. The tower is on a “silent isle” (17). The isle is silent because the lady is “literally ‘shut up’” (Halliwell-Grove 64). Since the lady is alone in the dreary castle, the island is silent. Thus, the tower’s location creates the theme of
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