Everything we know in Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott" we learn from the narrator, who tells the story from a third-person omniscient perspective. The narrator informs us early on that a magical being referred to as the Lady of Shallott is imprisoned (by curse) on an island near Camelot. She is trapped in a small castle there in Shalott:
No time hath she to sport and play:
A charmed web she weaves alway.
A curse is on her, if she stay
Her weaving, either night or day,
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be;
Therefore she weaveth steadily,
Therefore no other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
The Lady is here said to weave a magic web. She observes the people and things that pass below through a magic mirror (weaving them into the web), but she cannot look upon them directly. If she were to look outside the window, the curse would take effect (though the poem is vague about the curse itself—its origin and cause, for example). On one occasion, she does look out because she spies Sir Lancelot and this causes her mirror to break and her magic web to fly out of the window. Knowing the curse doomed her, she dies in the final part of the poem.