The Lady of Shalott Essay

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One of the most significant ways in which "The Lady of Shalott" manifests its politically selfdivided stance toward the values of patriarchal ideology— colluding with and critiquing them at once—is by means of what might be called a discourse of the gaze. For patriarchy the difference between "masculine" and "feminine" sexuality is articulated in terms of a difference between activity and passivity. These differences are in turn rehearsed at the scopic level where the gaze—the act of looking—is identified with a "masculine" (rather than "necessarily male") subject-position while women come, as the silent and passive objects of the gaze (and the "masculine" desire of which it is the sign), to occupy the site of the "feminine" and are as such denied the possibility of experiencing themselves as actively desiring subjects.

Tennyson's poem begins its reflections on the gaze and the question of sexual power-relations to...

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This section contains 2,179 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Lady of Shalott Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Lady of Shalott from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.