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Themes

This is a tricky one, since no one in "The Lady of Shalott" admits to being in love. Still, the idea of love, even unspoken love, is so crucial to this entire plot. It's a really old story. Lancelot is the guy or girl you always wanted to talk to but never worked up the courage. Maybe you saw him across the lunchroom, but he never noticed you. Maybe she was in your math class but you never said hi. This is love from a distance, and it's real and raw and painful in this poem.

Questions About Love

  1. Why doesn't the poem directly mention the Lady's love for Lancelot?
  2. Do you think Lancelot falls in love with the Lady at the end? What does his final speech mean to you?
  3. Would you call this a love story? What other names could you use for it? Basically, is love the most important theme here?
  4. Did you ever risk anything major for love? Do you sympathize with the Lady's decision?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This poem uses the love story as an excuse to explore a more powerful and crucial theme, the Lady's choice to set herself free, her refusal to be confined.

Although it's never explicitly stated, the poem suggests that Lancelot, in his way, is as isolated as the Lady, and as much in need of the connection and happiness that love could bring.

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