The Lady of Shalott Essay

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In the following essay, Plasa examines contradictory representations of women, their sexuality, and their social roles in "The Lady of Shalott."

Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" (1842) is often read by critics as a poem centrally concerned with the question of the relation between "art" and "life," conditions respectively symbolized in the worlds of Shalott and "many-towered Camelot." The poem resolves this question, it is usually argued, by the recognition that "life" is inherently antipathetic to the possibility of an ongoing artistic production—an insight taken in turn to be enacted by the death which befalls the Lady who gives the poem its title in the course of her attempted sortie from the one realm of the poem to the other. A paradigmatic formulation of this canonical approach is provided by Walter E. Houghton and G. Robert Stange in their anthology, Victorian Poetry and Poetics (1959). According to their notes...

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This section contains 711 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Lady of Shalott from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.