How does Tennyson covey a sense of isolation and lonliness in the poem 'The Lady of Shallot?'Preferably between lines 19-72

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tennyson conveys a sense of isolation and loneliness through his use of diction and imagery in "The Lady of Shalott."  In part II of the poem, Tennyson portrays the lady as being separated from the rest of the world, only viewing the daily happenings through her mirror:

"And moving thro' a mirror clear

That hangs before her all the year

Shadows of the world appear" (Part II, stanza 2).

Beyond the imagery of the shadows on the mirror, Tennyson also portrays the other characters as passing the tower, leaving the lady behind: the river, the market-girls, the "troop of damsels glad" -- all continue on their way.  The rest of the world is in motion; only the Lady of Shalott appears stationary, unable to join in the busy everyday life which continues to elude her.  The rest of the world seems bustling and vibrant; Tennyson incorporates bright colors, "red cloaks" and "crimson lad."  The Lady of Shalott laments her isolation and inability to partake in the scenes reflected from the mirror:

"I am half-sick of shadows," said

The Lady of Shalott" (Part II, stanza 5).

Ultimately, Tennyson's use of diction and imagery, portraying the world as being vibrant, colorful, and in motion, creates a distinct separation from the solitary, stationary state of the Lady of Shalott.

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The Lady of Shalott

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