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How is 'The Lady of Shalott' a poem about romantic yearning?

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How is 'The Lady of Shalott' a poem about romantic yearning? In part 1 of the poem, there is mostly description of the main place involved in the poem, Shalott. Verse 1 emphasizes the peaceful nature of the area, with descriptions like 'where the lilies blow'. Verse 3 describes 'heavy barges' heading towards Camelot and Verse 4 says that the river is winding 'Down to tower'd Camelot'. There is no real reference to romantic yearning in this part of the poem, but it is important in describing the surroundings, which later play a large part in The Lady of Shalott's romantic yearning. In the second stanza of part 2 the lady of Shalott is creating her own reality from the one she sees outside on a tapestry, recording everything she sees on it. In the last lines of the verse she mentions the people she sees walking by the river: And there the surly village-churls, And the red cloaks of market girls, Pass onward from Shalott. These lines are describing young people, who are described as 'surly' and as 'churls', which suggests that they are loud and boisterous, and girls whose 'red cloaks' suggest an element of romance and that they are getting dressed up to go to the market. This is a simple male/female connection that is made in the two lines, a connection that suggests excitement and youth. This contrast with the lady's solitude, and as she looks in the mirror it suggests that this world of romance and youthful attraction is out of her reach. The fact that she can do nothing about it makes the word 'yearning' appropriate. ...read more.


This moment is definitively a moment of sudden excitement, something she rarely experiences, so as is he is going so fast this in particular is the reason why she breaks the curse and looks out. The fact that she sees two reflections (she sees him in the river outside the castle as well) heightens the moment. The sudden flash means that she leaves her tapestry and she walks to the window, and the intensity of his appearance is the thing that makes her do this. The line 'She saw the water-lily bloom' suggests an element of reproduction, which relates to romantic yearning, and the speed of this blooming (she sees it in an instant) suggests that she suddenly feels an incredibly strong feeling of romance and longing. She sees the back of his head so it is almost as if in this great moment where she looks out at him he is turned away from her, which again emphasizes how distant he is from her. There is a large sense of drama in the last four lines of the fifth stanza of part 3, and the fact that the curse has come over her because of Sir Lancelot and her inability to refrain from looking out at him, shows that she has such a strong feeling of yearning for romance and a knight that these are the after-effects of her looking out at him. In part 4, the scenery of Shalott echoes the mood; there is a sense of pathetic fallacy. There are lines such as 'In the stormy east-wind straining' and 'The pale yellow woods were waning', which paint dreary, sad pictures of the surroundings. ...read more.


Whereas in Mariana you are introduced to the main character in the first verse, the first verse in The Lady of Shalott is purely descriptive. This is a continually contrasting factor in both poems; in Mariana every verse involves her to personify her sadness and her imprisonment by herself, whereas in the Lady of Shalott there are many stanzas that are purely descriptive of Shalott and the world outside her tower. This is because this poem is about her imprisonment from the outside world by a curse and so Tennyson emphasizes this by including stanzas about the world she is locked away from. This is a main factor in both poems; imprisonment, but in Mariana she is not physically imprisoned as the Lady of Shalott is. However the Lady of Shalott dies because she sets herself free, whereas Mariana does not die but she wishes she would because she effectively can't set herself free (because her imprisonment is mental). An obvious similarity between the poems is the involvement in both of them of brave, gallant men. However in Mariana the whole poem revolves around her misery about the fact that Angelo will not be with her, but in The Lady of Shalott it seems that up until part 3 the poem is building up, through romantic references and descriptions, to what seems to be the crucial part of the poem - Sir Lancelot. Both poems involve women whose misery is largely based on the fact that they cannot be with these men. The main difference is that Mariana has already had an experience with Angelo and has been with him for a while whereas the Lady of Shalott has never been with a man. ...read more.

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