What Arthurian themes are exposed or symbolized?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Lady of Shallot" is a beautiful, romantic ballad that is mythic, all the elements of the poem transcend logic.  She is trapped in a tower, unable to leave, uses a mirror to see the world, falls in love with Lancelot from hearing him sing and then surrenders to her passion for this shining knight offering her death as a testament to her love for Lancelot.

Camelot embodies a tragic love story, the love of Guinevere, Arthur's queen and Lancelot, a favored knight of the round table.      

In this poem, "The Lady of Shallot," the Arthurian legend is evident in the romance that is evoked by the isolated lady's falling in love with Lancelot, a Knight of Camelot. 

She is a symbol of the maiden needing rescue; however, Lancelot cannot save her.  For "The Lady of Shallot," just like Camelot, passion is a disruptive force in her life, which leads to her death.

The poem is also linked to Camelot because it is a fantasy.  The lady has a curse on her and is unable to leave the tower.  The reason for the curse if never explained. 

"The character Tennyson calls the Lady of Shalott is based on Elaine of Astolat, one of the figures from the legend of King Arthur."  

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The Lady of Shalott

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