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The Lady of Shalott

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Rebecca MacLean

on 1 November 2013

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Transcript of The Lady of Shalott

The Feminist Analysis of Lady Of Shallot
The feminist criticism theory is concerned with the ways in which literature exhibits the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women.
This theory strives to expose the misogyny of male authors as they depict women as objects of possession or as inferior to the male sex.
It is also concerned with the ulterior discrimination of female authors from the traditional literary canon.
The Role of Women in the Victorian Era
Social stereotypes existed and bound women to domestic work. They were responsible for only menial tasks such as food preparation, cleaning the household, and caring for children.
The Feminist Criticism Theory
Commonalities of the
Feminist Criticism Theory

1. Women are oppressed by patriarchy, which is the rule of men, economically, politically, socially, and psychologically. This patriarchy is the primary means by which they remain oppressed.
2. In every aspect of life that patriarchy exists, women are marginalized, thus signifying that they are defined only by their differences from male norms and standards of behaviour and ability.
3. All of Western (Anglo-European) civilization tenaciously maintains the patriarchal ideology from precedent years. For example, in the biblical story of the fall of man, people generally blame Eve for the initial sin, when in fact, Adam was responsible as well.
4. The universal goal of the feminist theory is to engender a sense of gender equality.
5. While biology determines our sex, society determines our gender, and decides whether we are masculine or feminine.
Typical Questions
How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?

How does the author define male and female roles?
How does the work manifest economical, political, social, or psychological status of women in relation to patriarchy?
What does the work say about women's creativity?

Part I.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veil'd
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A redcross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle-bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
Part IV
Part III
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale-yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse –
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot;
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
A corse between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
Part II
The Lady of Shalott, which was composed by Alfred Tennyson, exhibits a setting in the Arthurian epoch. However, feminist critics believe that the author portrays the role of women during the Victorian era, this being the time in which it was written, as well as the issues related to women's sexuality.
The Victorian lady was continually subordinate to a man. She was property first of her father, and later of her husband, thus signifying that women had limited rights.
Analysis Using the Feminist Criticism Theory
Within the poem The Lady of Shalott, Tennyson depicts the situation of women as inferior to men. In the preliminary stanzas of this composition it is explained that jobs exist that are male and female oriented. For example, the Lady of Shalott herself is a creative being who weaves, and the females traveling to Camelot are responsible for purchasing food at the market due to their domestic role of cooking. On the contrary, men appear to involve themselves in more demanding occupations such as being a shepherd or knight, both of which are concerned with the protection of other beings, whom are considered dependent and weak.
In part II of this literary work, the idea is introduced that women need a man to be content in life. Speaking in relation to the Lady of Shalott, Tennyson writes "she hath no loyal knight and true." The author continues to communicate her need for romance, and ultimately a man, when she views two lovers in her mirror and consequently decides that she is tired of living alone and viewing the world in a distorted perspective.
In part III of the poem, Tennyson personifies a beautiful man by the name of Sir Lancelot. Immediately after the Lady of Shalott views this handsome knight in her mirror she makes the decision to break the curse and look outside, despite the fatal ramifications. It is plausible that the author was communicating that her infatuation, and ultimately the desire for a knight of her own, was the solitary thing that propelled her towards her resolution to look at the world outside.
Finally, the admiration of the Lady of Shalott is associated only with her physicality and beautiful appearance. Sir Lancelot clearly states that "she has a lovely face," and this is essentially the only reason for the pity she is offered upon her death.
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