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What is the effect of the author's use of personification in the first stanza of "The...

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rescueboy6 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 27, 2013 at 12:07 AM via web

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What is the effect of the author's use of personification in the first stanza of "The Lady of Shalott?"

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2013 at 4:43 PM (Answer #1)

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In the first stanza, the author describes the landscape outside of the Lady of Shalott's prison/tower. There is a sharp contrast between the Lady's room and the outside world. Her room is gray, dull, and still (as most prisons are.) The landscape outside is vibrant, busy with daily life, and essentially bustling with activity and interaction. To emphasize this scene of social and natural life experience, the author personifies the fields, saying that they "clothe" the "wold" (plain) and meet the sky, as if to say the fields are alive (like a person), clothing the plains and "meeting," interacting, or even conversing with the sky: 

Long fields of barley and rye,

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

And through the field the road runs by

Even though "the road runs" is a common expression, it is also a use of personification. The road runs, as if to say the road, in form and function, leads to another place and also travels itself to get there. All of these examples of personification are used to emphasize motion and a sense of life and activity in the people and the landscape. 

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