I believe that the poem “The Lady of Shallot” is a cautionary tale that illustrates the dangers and sadness of living separate from life’s true experiences. Throughout the poem there are countless examples of the lady viewing the beauties of the world through her mirror as she is stuck observing but never interacting with the beauty that she is surrounded by. This can be seen in part two of the poem when Lady Shallot is contemplating the world outside her tower.
“And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.”
This is a fantastic use of imagery by the author as the description of the Lady as a bold seer in a trance implies that she is simply an observer who is separated from the beauty and joy of what a real life is supposed to be. I also think that this sadness and separation from the outside world is what ultimately compels the Lady to break the curse and look directly at the Camelot leading to her unfortunate demise. Another quote that clearly showcases Lady Camelots displeasure with her current way of life comes in part three of the poem when she says “I am half-sick of shadows,” for me this continues to reinforce the idea of the incompleteness and dissatisfaction of Lady Camelots life and her desire to live a more complete life outside the confines of her tower.
In the end I believe that this poem was written in order to illustrate the dangers of living a life where you are unable to witness and participate in all of life and natures beauty. I also am of the view that Lady Camelot’s desperation to break out of this cycle sends a strong message about the importance of enjoying the many privileges that life provides for you.