Please explain these lines from "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...

Please explain these lines from "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: 50

There the river eddy whirls,

And there the surly village-churls,

And the red cloaks of market girls,

Pass onward from Shalott.


Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These lines you have quoted come from the second stanza of the second section of this excellent poem. Their value lies in the way that they stress the importance of the mirror in the life of the Lady of Shalott, and show how the Lady of Shalott was able to view the real world from her imbowered isle, even though the curse prevents her from looking out of the window herself. The mirror then mediates reality for her, so that she can see the world in "shadows," as these lines indicate. The importance of the mirror is indicated in the way that it "hangs before her all the year" and in the fact that the Lady of Shalott uses the mirror to view the outside world which she then records in her weaving.

These lines above all present a key theme of this poem, which is the way in which the Lady of Shalott is isolated from real life, and just a spectator. She is left to record the "shadows" that she sees in her weaving, which introduces the key conflict of art vs. life and reality, and the limitations of art in trying to record or represent real life in all of its vibrancy. In the end, the beauty, colour and energy of real life in the form of Sir Lancelot cannot be expressed fully through the mediation of the river, which leads the Lady of Shalott to desire life rather than its pale imitation.

ukhamari | Student

The Lady of Shalott, being confined to her solitary castle of gray walls, derives contenment by weaving the vivid images of the outside world in the variegated magic web with 'gay' or flamboyant colours, the images or reflections of which appear on her blue mirror of clear countenance. she sees the image of the highway nearby the island of Shalott, that winds down to Camelot, the towered capital of the legendary King Arthur. She also spots the point in the river where the water creates a whirlpool and moves on rapidly. Through the highway, commoners as well as people belonging to the nobility and the king's court pass by to Camelot. The Lady spots the ill-tempered village rustics and the vibrant market girls, who, draped in red cloaks pass by to Camelot with their merchandise. These various images( including some of the rest) generates different feelings and emotions in her, which later gives way to her breaking emancipation and embarking on real life, affected by the handsome and brave Sir Lancelot.

iqqu | Student

i like the way you explain it

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The Lady of Shalott

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