Lady Shallot: Isolation and Imagination

The plot of Lady Shallot focuses on a woman who has been cursed with loneliness and is confined to an island. The first two stanzas describe an imaginary place in which nature runs wild, and is close to Camelot, where King Arthur reigns. Lady Shalott is forever confined to her tower, and cannot look in the direction of Camelot because it is rumored that it will cause her to be cursed. This leaves her to weave her tapestries, forever imagining what the road leading to Camelot beholds. She people watches constantly, weaving tapestries of the beautiful sights she sees. What I believe this poem is really about is the concept of wanting what you can’t have. When goals set are too lofty and unrealistic, it leads to dangerous situations where you or others can get hurt.

“A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her eyes were darken’d wholly,
And her face sharpen’d slowly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot:
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water- side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.”

As shown towards the end of the poem , curiosity killed the cat in Lady Shallott’s case. This is a tale of warning, as Lady Shallot fell victim to temptation. She flew too close to the sun, and burnt up. It’s important to stay grounded in desires, wishes, and wants, especially when you know what you want could potentially hurt you.