Analysis Pages

Plot in The Lady of Shalott

Plot Examples in The Lady of Shalott:

Text of the Poem

🔒 2

"IV..."   (Text of the Poem)

“The Lady of Shalott” is divided into four sections. The first section describes the setting, the second introduces the Lady and her curse, the third introduces Lancelot, and the fourth section depicts the ramifications of the curse. It is interesting to note that each section ends on a piece of dialogue—the only four instances of dialogue in the poem. The Lady’s dialogue at the end of the second and third sections describes the nature of her situation and her curse, but offer very little of her character or identity. By contrast, The first and last piece of dialogue represent outside views on her, with the reapers commenting on her supernatural reputation and Lancelot offering a compliment to her beauty. The Lady never truly gets to define herself, remaining subject to the interpretations of others.

""The curse is come upon me,"..."   (Text of the Poem)

It is worth noting the specific sequence of events that occur in this section. Lancelot is shown in the Lady’s mirror. She then leaves her work, walks across her room, and looks outside. She sees the water lilies, Lancelot (as signified by his helmet), and finally Camelot itself. Her weaving is destroyed, possibly thrown from the tower, and the mirror she has used to watch the world cracks through the middle; she implicitly attributes these events to the onset of her curse. What is unknown is whether the effects of the curse are isolated to the destruction of the Lady’s web and mirror, with her subsequent reaction being completely of her own choosing or whether the destruction of the web and mirror is simply the first stage in the onset of the curse, which will continue to control or influence the Lady until her death. This ambiguity regarding the scope of the Lady’s personal agency contributes to the difficulty of supporting any one particular thematic interpretation over another.

Analysis Pages