What is the curse on the Lady of Shallot?
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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.
Textual evidence reveals that the Lady of Shalott herself is completely unaware of the exact nature of the curse: "She knows not what the 'curse' may be," and that she is also not interested in finding out why she has been cursed and by whom. Hence it is all the more tragic that only after "She look'd down to Camelot" she realisesthe ill fated outcome of her action. But by then it is too late. Usually, only if a person has harmed someone the victim retaliates by hiring a sorcerer or a magician to lay a curse upon that person. But in this poem it is obvious that the Lady of Shalott is completely innocent and has not hurt anyone.
Tennyson's purpose in not revealing the nature of the curse or the reasons underlying that curse serve to heighten the mystery surrounding the Lady of Shalott and thus intensify our sympathy for her.
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