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The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott


by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Analysis: Speaker

We never find out who put that curse on the Lady of Shalott. This made us a little bit curious. What if it turned out that it was the speaker of this poem? There are a lot of ways that you could picture the speaker of the poem, and we imagine an old witch telling this story, looking down into her crystal ball where she can see the images of the Lady and Lancelot.

Where do we get this? Well, there's the bird's-eye-view thing, right? This speaker sees and knows things no one else could. More than that, though, we think there's something a little cold in the sound of this speaker's voice, just a hint of pleasure at the way the Lady suffers, at the irony of her last meeting with Lancelot. Plus, there's the way the speaker hides the details of the curse, almost like she was keeping a secret. Finally, isn't this whole poem a little like a magical spell, meant to draw you into this world and hold you there? The rhythm of the poem, the way we come back again and again to the same refrain – it's almost like we are being hypnotized, put under a curse ourselves by the sneaky magic of the speaker.

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