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The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Island

Symbol Analysis

The island in the river, cut off from the land and the outside world, is a major symbol of the Lady's isolation and loneliness.

  • Line 9: When we first hear about the island, in the middle of all that natural description, it sounds like kind of a nice spot, surrounded by flowers. It's a little isolated, sure, but maybe that's a good thing – it's peaceful, out of the way, off the beaten path, maybe the kind of place you'd like to have a cabin. It isn't until later that we learn about the sinister curse.
  • Line 81: After the second stanza, the speaker actually doesn't use the word "island" again, but here he talks about "remote Shalott." That's an interesting phrase, and it shows how much our image of Shalott has changed. Now it seems lonely, and we know that, because of how remote the island is, the Lady will be separated from Lancelot as long as she stays there. The island has become like a prison, more like Alcatraz than some chilled-out little spot in the river.

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