Discussion Topic

Literary devices in Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott."

Summary:

Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" employs several literary devices, including imagery, symbolism, and repetition. Imagery vividly describes the setting and the Lady's isolation. Symbolism is used in the mirror and the river, representing her limited view of the world and her eventual fate. Repetition emphasizes the Lady's monotonous existence and the inevitability of her curse.

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What are some literary devices used by Tennyson in "The Lady of Shalott," parts 1-4?

Tennyson uses multiple literary devices in "The Lady of Shalott," including simile, imagery, metaphor, and symbolism.

In part three of the poem, Tennyson describes the details of Lancelot's armor and horse:

"The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
  Like to some branch of stars we see
  Hung in the golden Galaxy." (82-84)

Tennyson uses a simile to compare the glitter of the horse's bridle to the stars at night.  This simile also incorporates imagery, creating visual image in the readers' mind.  The celestial imagery continues later in part three in the third stanza as Lancelot journeys to Camelot:

Burn'd like one burning flame together,
  As he rode down to Camelot.
  As often thro' the purple night,
  Below the starry clusters bright,
  Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
  Moves over still Shalott. (94-99)

The comparison of Lancelot to a meteor is significant, because the metaphor suggests that the knight travels a fixed course, with no room for variation, like a meteor.  With all his flash and brilliance, Lancelot cannot change his course or stop for the Lady of Shalott.

Tennyson also employs symbolism with his use of the mirror that shows "shadows of the world" in part two (46).  A curse binds the Lady to weave, and her only view of the world is the mirror.  The mirror symbolizes the false promise of the outside world; it shows the reality of what happens beyond the tower, but is only an illusion.  When the lady finally leaves her weaving for Lancelot; the mirror "crack'd from side to side," signifying that her fragile connection to the real world has been broken by the curse.

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What literary devices are in Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott," part 1?

In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott," there are a number of literary devices used in this beautiful and sad poem.

In the first stanza, barley and rye are personified as clothing the "ground" or "hills" (wold) as Tennyson states...

...they clothe the wold and meet the sky...

End rhyme is used in the poem. Rhyme is seen most commonly when the vowel sound in a group of words is the same. The lines may "rest" next to each other or occur every other line. There are many variations of end rhyme. A letter is assigned for each sound. For the first line-ending words that rhyme in a poem, like "snow" and "go," each would be assigned an "A." If the next rhyme used words like "first" and "thirst," their sound would be assigned a "B." (Each sound is given a new "letter.) The rhyme scheme for the first two stanzas, for instance, is:

A  A  A  A  B  C  C  C  B

In this case, the last word of the first four lines rhymes with each other: lie, rye, sky, by. The long "i" sound is assigned an "A." The sound changes with the world "Camelot," so it is labeled with a "B;" and when the following line begins a new rhyming pattern with go, blow, below, these sounds are assigned a "C."

Alliteration is generally the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of a group of words. The sound must be the same, though the letter doesn't need to be. ("Ph" and "F" use different letters, but they sound the same.) Line 4 gives an example of alliteration with:

...road run...

The "R" sound is repeated, creating the musical quality of alliteration. We see it again at the start of the second stanza:

Willows whiten...

Here is the repeated sound of the "W."

Repetition (used for effect) is found in line 15:

Four grey walls, and four grey towers...

It is also seen throughout the poem occurring in the middle of the stanzas with the repetition of the word "Camelot."

In line 28, we recognize the use of assonance, which is the repetition of the same vowel sound occurring in a group of words:

...reaper weary...

In this example, the "ea" creates a vowel blend with the long "E" sound.

Consonance is found in line 29, and is a similar literary device that uses repetition, but in this case the sound repeated is made up of consonants—still repeating the same sound:

...bearded barley

In this case, the "R" sound in "bearded" and "barley" is repeated.

Finally, we may see a metaphor in the last line of Part One:

...Tis the fairy

Lady of Shalott.

A metaphor compares two dissimilar things that share similar characteristics—but unlike the "simile," a "metaphor" does not use the words "like" or "as" in the comparison. The Lady of Shalott is not a fairy, though she may seem supernatural (something beyond the natural world)—like the fairy—in that she sings and weaves, never coming out of her house, much the way a fairy (if one is to believe in them) does not come out of hiding for people to see, either.

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