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

The Lady of Shalott book cover
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When in the poem "The Lady of Shalott" is figurative language used?

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This classic poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which found renewed popularity when it was set to music by the contemporary Canadian musician Loreena McKennnitt, is indeed full of figurative language corresponding to the definitions offered in the previous answers. The entire poem is an evocative portrayal of one of myriad legends within the Arthurian myth cycle and portrays the famed knight Lancelot.

Lancelot is portrayed with Christian imagery (a red cross on his shield) but is also known to have committed adultery with King Arthur's wife, Queen Guinevere. In the poem, "a red cross knight forever kneeled/to a lady in his shield" has two possible meanings. One, that the red cross is the symbol on the shield associated with Christianity, and the "lady" is the Virgin Mary (the Grail knights were also portrayed as having red crosses on their shields); or two, it means his shield was inscribed with an image representing the Queen. Artistic representations have shown both to be possible. In...

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