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Foreshadowing in The Lady of Shalott

Foreshadowing Examples in The Lady of Shalott:

Text of the Poem

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""I am half sick of shadows,"..."   (Text of the Poem)

This is an important moment of agency for the Lady. Her declaration that she is tired of seeing only “shadows” of the world opens up the interpretation that she may be reconsidering her situation and waiting for something worth looking at. It also marks the turning point where her “cheer” and “delight” in her life and work begin to wane. It is notable how soon this moment arises after the statement of her “delight” just at the beginning of this stanza; it is possible that the “delight” is a false report and that the Lady has long felt dissatisfied.

"Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 10 Little breezes dusk and shiver..."   (Text of the Poem)

It is notable that Tennyson here surrounds the “silent isle” of Shalott with visual imagery of the natural world that depicts rapid movement. It is also worth noting that “quiver” and “shiver” can be applied to people as well as objects, frequently in the context of a strong emotional experience. Throughout the poem, the images surrounding Shalott can continue to be interpreted as foreshadowing the events that befall its Lady—here, the outside world appears to tremble with emotion, and later, a violent storm will accompany her moment of upheaval.

"Pass onward..."   (Text of the Poem)

This line details people leaving Shalott, not simply moving around it. Previous images specify that the trends of motion are toward Camelot and involve inanimate objects: the river, the road, the boats. This line specifically involves humans and describes them as not just moving toward Camelot but “onward from Shalott,” essentially abandoning it. This can be read as an extension of the foreshadowing regarding the world beyond Shalott, hinting to readers that those who leave the island don’t necessarily return.

"The Lady of Shalott...."   (Text of the Poem)

Of the poem’s 19 stanzas, 13 extend the “Shalott” refrain from simply the word itself, in reference to the island as a place, to the Lady’s full title. This invocation sets both the island and the Lady herself in consistent opposition to Camelot and all it represents. Thus the form of the poem contains foreshadowing. While the Lady might try to leave Shalott, she is not a truly independent entity and can never be free from its influence.

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