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The first section of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott" (1832 and 1842) describes very vividly the natural surroundings of the castle on "the island of Shalott" in which the Lady of Shalott has been shut up for the rest of her life. The description of the natural surroundings in and around the castle on the island of Shalott are objectively presented by the narrator of the story to symbolise the mood and tone of the poem. The picturesque beauty of the surroundings is not presented subjectively through the eyes of the Lady of Shalott because she cannot be distracted from her task of eternally weaving in order to escape her doom.
1. Personification: is a figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to inanimate objects. Lifeless things are treated as human beings. In the fourth stanza,
Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to towered Camelot:
"bearded barley" is a fine example of personification. Tennyson's keen eye for detail looks closely at the barley grains on the stalk and reveals to us the fine hairs on the husk of the barley, and he compares these fine hairs on the barley grain to the beard on a man's cheek.
2.Hyperbole: Exaggeration or hyperbole is used by Tennyson to create a magnificent and grand effect when he describes the jewelled diamond encrusted bridle of Sir Lancelot's horse:
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle has been decorated with precious stones, but Tennyson exaggerates the beauty of the bridle by saying that the diamonds were numerous and shone brightly like the stars in a galaxy.
3. Repetition or 'Echo': Throughout the entire poem, the fifth line of each stanza ends with "Camelot" and the ninth line of each stanza ends with "Shalott." The repetition of these two words in all the stanzas, like a magic spell, resonates throughout the entire poem creating a mysterious and magical atmosphere.
Tennyson combines repetition and personification in the eleventh stanza when he describes the meteor which has a long and bright tail glowing behind it as "bearded,"
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.
Both 'barley' and 'meteor' which are inanimate objects have been personified by the use of the same adjective "bearded."
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