Allusion in The Lady of Shalott
Arthurian Tradition: “The Lady of Shalott” is steeped in Arthurian legend, most notably drawing on the tale of Elaine of Astolat. In Malory’s version of the story in Le Morte d'Arthur (1485), Elaine’s father hosts Sir Lancelot for a tournament and during his stay, Lancelot unintentionally wins Elaine’s affections. After Lancelot rejects her, Elaine dies of heartbreak and requests that her body be sent down the river with a letter absolving Lancelot of any fault and reaffirming her love for him. Similarities can be seen in details like the presence of Lancelot as a catalyst for the heroine and the floating of the Lady of Shalott’s body down the river, among others. Despite Lancelot’s usual characterization as a narrative’s protagonist, it is ultimately the Lady herself who drives the action of the poem and decides the eventual outcome.