What is the main subject of each part of "The Lady Shalott"

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although long, Lady of Shalott is a ballad, and in fact there are various versions of the story and many paintings of her situation. In Tennyson’s poem, each section is a story in itself with a clear beginning and end. In section 1 the narrator introduces the setting, and vaguely introduces the Lady as mysterious, living in a tower. The local people hear her sing but do not see her. Section 2 tells us about her curse and what she does with her day—she cannot look outside her window to see Camelot, but weaves a picture of what is out there by looking at a mirror image of it. We learn she’s “sick of shadows"-- of not participating in society. Section 3:  Lancelot enters, traveling down the river looking as handsome as can be. She sees him in the mirror, looks out the window, and leaves the tower.She knows shes doomed. In Section 4 she climbs into a boat and floats down the river to Camelot, and when Lancelot finds her there she is dead. The poem can be interpreted as a commentary on the restrictions under which Victorian women lived; it can also be understood as commentary on art removed from society.