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

The Lady of Shalott book cover
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What are the literary devices used in Part 2 of the poem "The Lady of Shalott" and REFERRING CLOSELY TO THE TEXT, what are their EFFECTS? 

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The form of "The Lady of Shalott" is the ballad and it uses a rhyme scheme of aaaabcccb. This simple rhyme scheme gives the poem an ancient or fairy tale cadence. 

A prominent literary device in Part 2 is the literary allusion. An allusion is a phrase or figure of speech that makes reference to other people, places, myths, or literary works. Tennyson also uses metaphor and imagery. At the beginning of Part 2, the tapestry is described in bright colors and images, but by the end it is described in terms of shadows. The tapestry has been the way she sees/weaves the world. By the end of Part 2, she longs to see the world directly. 

In the first stanza of Part 2, Tennyson uses the metaphor that the Lady weaves a magic web. She is weaving a tapestry of the landscape from outside her window, along the river to Camelot. She is unable to look directly out of the window because of a curse, so she weaves her own picture of the world just as a spider weaves its own web in order to survive. It is "magic" because it recreates an image of the world. 

The Lady, since she cannot look directly out of the window, uses her mirror to see the outside world. She is thus only able to see the world indirectly and inverted because mirrors reverse the image. (Weavers used mirrors facing them so they could see their work.) There are allusions to Rapunzel and Ulysses' wife Penelope, the former trapped in her tower and the latter used weaving as a distraction while her husband (Ulysses) was away. Here, in all three cases, weaving is a way to cope with waiting, being trapped, or being under a curse. From a reader response/feminist perspective, this could also be interpreted as a statement on the patriarchal notion that women's place is "in the home." 

Also in the second stanza of Part 2, there is an allusion to Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" where he states that we only see the shadows of reality. In this allegory, we are chained, only able to face a wall in a cave. Behind us are processions of people passing in front of a fire; we only see their shadows because we cannot turn around. The descriptions of the passersby in the third stanza are reminiscent of Plato's depictions of the people whose shadows we see as they pass by the fire behind us. 

It is in the fourth stanza that the Lady finally speaks and has grown tired of her imprisonment. In line 71, she says "I am half sick of shadows." This is, again, an allusion to Plato's allegory and marks the moment when she wishes to see reality directly, in spite of her curse. In terms of imagery, what was once a "magic web" has become "shadows." 

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