The Lady of Shalott Questions and Answers
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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How does the theme of isolation appear in "The Lady of Shalott"?

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem presents a woman who is confined inside by a magically imposed curse. She cannot leave her room and go outside, a situation that increases her fascination with that alien world. The requirement that she watch these goings-on only through the mirror imposes another layer of separation: because she sees the world in reverse, her vision is distorted by “shadows.” Her mission is to weave, but the subject matter she chooses is “the mirror's magic sights.”

The impossibility of clear vision further isolates her from normal reality. In particular, the Lady of Shalott watches the reflection of the traffic to and from Camelot, King Arthur’s court, as the road which passes beneath her window. The impressive figure of the great Sir Lancelot captures her fancy. It seems that all her pent-up frustrations are condensed in her obsession with him, as she thinks of herself as incomplete without a partner. The poet reveals that the Lady retains a measure of free...

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