“The Lady of Shalott” is a love story about a woman cursed to live on a secluded island by the name of Shalott in a secluded tower. The Lady of Shalott is also prohibited from looking directly at the nearby civilization of Camelot; she is only allowed to see it through her mirror’s reflection. The Lady of Shalott decides to risk her life to defy her imprisonment with tragic results.
The Lady of Shalott lives her days high in a tower, watching life occur below through the reflection in her mirror. Sir Lancelot crosses her path one day and causes her to ignore her curse and look at him directly with her own eyes. Now in love, the Lady of Shalott boldly decides to sail across the water separating her from Camelot, despite the warning sign of her mirror cracking as soon as she gazes upon Lancelot. She reaches Camelot’s shores lifeless and completely frozen to the fright of Lancelot’s company of knights while Lancelot muses at her “lovely face.” When asked by Canon Ainger to explain the allegory of this poem, Lord Alfred Tennyson explained it as, “The new-born love for something, for some one in the wide world from which she has been so long excluded, takes her out of the region of shadows into that of realities.”