The Lady of Shalott
The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott." (lines 35-36)
This is the first time the poem mentions anything magical or supernatural. The word fairy used to mean more than it usually does today. It wasn't just a little Tinkerbelle-like thing with wings. It meant a person or thing that was tied to the eerie supernatural forces of the world. These reapers are clearly meant to be superstitious townspeople, so it's hard to know how seriously to take them. Still, they raise a question that the poem never quite answers. Does the Lady of Shalott have magical powers herself, or is she just trapped by someone else's magic? Just something to think about.
A magic web with colours gay. (line 38)
This web and the mirror are the two big magic props in this poem. Were they put there by the person who cursed the Lady? Did she make them? We can't say for sure. In fact, the poem doesn't have much to say about any of its magical elements. It's all a bit mysterious, and that's kind of cool. If there was an obvious villain, it would be easy, but this way, we can't tell if the Lady is struggling against someone else, or herself.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay (lines 39-40)
No looking outside, just weaving. That's the rule. Kind of cruel and sad, but again, we don't know who to blame this on, since we don't really get any specifics on the curse. All the magic comes from a world of whispers and shadows, just a little hint of spooky mystery. It matters a ton for the plot of course, but Tennyson doesn't seem to want to get wrapped up in magical details.