© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sir Lancelot

Symbol Analysis

We've said it before, but Lancelot is definitely the rockstar of this poem. Even in the Arthur legends, he has a reputation as an irresistible ladies' man. This poem spends a bunch of time letting us know how good he looks in his armor. Other than that, he doesn't have much to do – no dragons to slay or anything like that. All he has to do is show up and look good in a mirror, and he totally rocks the Lady of Shalott's world.

  • Line 77: When he first shows up, he's gleaming in the sun, almost like he was on fire. To underline what a big event this is, Tennyson breaks a rule he keeps everywhere else in the poem. On this one occasion, instead of making "Camelot" the last word of the fifth line of the stanza, he uses "Lancelot" instead. It might not seem like a big deal, but it has a subtle effect, and it really points out how much the appearance of Lancelot shakes things up. The Lady's life is going to change completely.
  • Line 82: In trying to capture the full awesomeness of Lancelot and his gear, the speaker uses a bunch of comparisons. In this case, he uses a simile to compare the horse's bridle, all covered in jewels, to a constellation of shining stars.
  • Line 168: In Lancelot's last cameo appearance, we don't get as strong a visual image of him. Still, this moment lets us see another side of him, and it's also where he says his only real line. At this point, instead of being a glittery piece of eye-candy, he seems sensitive and thoughtful. He's also gracious and thoughtful toward the dead Lady, showing that he's not just handsome but a class act too. He is, in the world of the poem, a perfect guy, bold, chivalrous, handsome, and kind.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement