1EllenJ. Stockstill Gender Politics in Alfred, Lord Tennyson THE LADY OF SHALLOTT. 2 EllenJ. Stockstill Gender Politics in Alfred, Lord Tennyson THE LADY OF SHALLOTT.3 https://www.
vocabulary.com/dictionary/nascence4Tennyson, Alfred. “The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson.” Mariana. Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 July 1994) Tennyson’s’Mariana’ 4again focuses on isolationand loneliness, whereby the poem discusses the emotions experienced by a womanwaiting for her beloved; who doesn’t turn up and, so she desires to die. Through’Mariana’, Tennyson highlights how psychological impingement results inlimitation of her freedom, whereby she is locked within her mind and herthoughts, unable to escape. Secondly, her obsession with her lover is alsoimpingement by limiting her enjoyment of life and freedom, consequently wantingto die.Abreakthrough of both the lady’s psychological and physical impingement on herfreedom, occurs however, when she breaks her curse by looking out of thewindow.
The act of bravery due to lust, results in a decision that appears tobe her first and last with regards to freedom and instantly ‘the curse is comeupon’ her; whereby ultimately her loneliness lead to her death. Tennysondemonstrates how essentially, she has gained ‘nascence’; whereby she can emergeinto being and breaking free 3from the physical andpsychological imprisonment towards freedom, however her consequent deathhighlights how impinged the lady’s freedom is. Through life she was isolatedand to death, she was isolated, ‘singing in her song she died'(The Lady of Shallot, 4.44), her onlyform of freedom was from art and singing and when she broke the curse fromcarrying out these mundane tasks, she suffered. Arguably, knowing where her fate lay, Tennyson perhapsallowed the Lady’s last moments to be within the boat before floating toCamelot, thus it could be interpreted that the Lady essentially had controlover her freedom for the final time by reaching the city she so desired. However, it is ironic as the visitto Camelot only occurs in death, thus through the character of the Lady ofShallot, Tennyson demonstrates the gloomy pre-raphaelite truth, whereby womenwere forbidden and unable from seeking freedom, and by doing so consequentlyends in disaster.
The final scene depicts how the curse affected herpsychologically and trapped her physically thus are impinging her freedom.Furthermore, whilst an elaborate way of portraying the scene, it is essentiallydemonstrating the idea that when women act on their own accord to achievefreedom despite the motivation, it will inevitably end in tragedy.Tennysonstates that ‘she lives with little joy or fear'(The Lady of Shallot, 2.10), a sentence that initially conjures upsympathy, due to the fact she has not experienced joy in life and inevitablymust be lonely. However, by juxtaposing the use of ‘little joy’ (The Lady of Shallot, 2.
10) with ‘nofear’ (The Lady of Shallot, 2.10) additionallygives the implication that whilst her life isn’t joyous, she is safe andtherefore must obtain some contentment. By Tennyson choosing to mention thatshe has little fear, could imply that she is unlike most women of the Victorianera of whom need to have a man around so that they can feel safe, furthermorehe could be suggesting that she is only safe as she is locked away in isolation.In agreement, Stockstill points out how ‘the curse the Lady bears is theultimate inescapable nature of assigned gender roles and sexualities in patriarchalpower structures.’ 2Furthermore,Tennyson reminds readers of the damsel’s desire for freedom as she observesthose outside ‘Sometimes a troop of damsels glad'(The Lady of Shallot, 3.6). As the curse has prohibited the ladylooking outside, she is psychologically impinged and terrified thus will notexperience visual freedom.
The fact that she can only observe shadows and theirreflections in the mirror and ‘never sees the real things, just the images andthe use of shadows'(The Lady of Shallot, 2.71),highlights how isolated the lady must be as she cannot interact with anybody norsee anybody in the flesh.Tennysonportrays ‘The Lady of Shallot’ as segregated from the world around her withinthe tower she inhabits in.
Tennyson primarily focuses on the tower’s appearanceand features, arguably a techniqueincorporated with the hope of signifying her surrounding’s are more importantthan herself, and sheis merely an addition to her surroundings. Through theemphasis on the segregation of the tower and focusing on the tower’s featuresinstead, it’s interpretable that Tennyson is implying that her surroundings areher impingement on freedom. Firstly, within a tower you are above everybody anddon’t have the freedom to leave and secondly, the town of Shallot is isolatedalso, therefore lack of freedom and isolation is imminent. Furthermore, byTennyson choosing to discuss the tower’s appearance and its surroundings, itcould be interpreted as demonstrating the lack of freedom and importance womenof the Victorian era obtained. Supporting this, Tennyson adds a sense of mysteryto the Lady through disallowing her to speak throughout the poem and withoutproviding details for the reasoning of the curse and only portraying the femaleas partaking in mild ‘female’ considered tasks. Tennyson further depicts theLady as perhaps too weak to be outside, alongside the men, thus must remainwithin the confines of her tower. Through Tennyson primarily focusing on thebeautiful surroundings and the outside world with the use of words, it limitsher freedom further through the implication that she has no entitlement to bediscussed.
Furthermore,it could be interpreted that Tennyson attempts to conform with societiesattitude by not giving the ‘The Lady of Shallot’ a forename, and insteadreferring to her based on her location and demonstrates the lack of respect andequality women of the period received. In agreement, Stockstill furthers this argumentstating, ‘The repetition of her title in the narrative forces us to similarlyignore the Lady’s identity beyond her constructed position inside the tower’1