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Tennyson And Lady Of Shalott

4 Pages 1016 Words

Tennyson’s 1832 poem, “The Lady of Shalott,” found itself born again in its revised state
after Tennyson’s ten year silent period. In both versions, the Lady of Shalott is a body of
creativity. Her weaving is an artform. Enveloped in the tapestry are images and pictures
of the reflections she sees passing in her magic mirror. The Lady of Shalott is an artist of
both the loom and of images. Tennyson uses this status and her fate to embody the
characteristics of an artist. For example, she is withdrawn in a tower from which she can
see below the workings of a society - Camelot. An artist must, therefore, be secluded and
detached so as to accurately convey the meaning behind his/her subjects and make a
statement on society. However, this portrayal of the detached and elusive artist is even
more clearly defined in specific revisions of the poem between 1832 and 1842. The
deletion of specific descriptive details and the changing of the final stanza proves that
the1842 revised version of Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” is more effective in
conveying the notability of an artist who detaches and abstracts from his/her subject so as
to make an accurate statement on society.
Specific details are described in the 1832 version of “The Lady of Shalott” which
are excluded from the revised 1842 version. Specifically, images of adornment that add
to the description of the Lady in the earlier version are removed from the later version of
the poem. For example, the 1832 version specifically mentions pearls decorating the Lady
of Shalott. She is described as having a “cloudwhite crown of pearl” and a “pearlgarland
winding her head”. In addition, in this earlier version, the portrait of the
Lady of Shalott is not the only concept described with more detail and adornment. The
images that create her setting are also described in more decorative detail: “She leaneth
on a velvet bed,/ Fully royal...

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