The Lady of Shalott analysis
John William Waterhouse, 1849-1917, was a painter from Britain who worked with the style of Pre-Raphaelite. Pre-Raphaelite painters aimed at creating paint the same way artists who came before Raphael did in their work (Waterhouse 1915). These groups of painters solicited for inspiration in the literature of the British just like the stories of king Arthur and Shakespeare’s stories did. Waterhouse was inspired by the British literature and did a lot of paintings on ancient mythology. Every painting of Waterhouse used a woman as a subject. This poem provides a description of the river as dark and dim, during the closing of day and this is also evident in the painting. The lady is viewing Camelot like in a trance. John William Waterhouse was not part of the Pre-Raphaelite group.
However, the subject matter and style he employed in his workings showed that he practiced their work. This means that he promoted the themes of Shakespeare to Arthurian mythology and romances. The first painting which was from 1888 demonstrates Elaine floated to her death end. The last painting from 1916 shows her thinking over her life of solitary and isolation. In the series’ last painting, there is the image of Elaine before her downfall, when she is sitting just above her tapestry and taking a rest. Elaine’s hands are behind her head and she dreamingly stares into the void while seeing the Camelot’s towered castle with red roofs shining in glory. Elaine looks contemplative but lacks the determination. The pale face shows the Elaine is very curious, nervous and impetus.
However, Elaine is naïve and does not know anything about the world. Elaine wishes for something beyond her descriptions and holds her memories which do not belong to her. This makes her whisper and sigh to her solitude “I am half-sick of shadows!” Oh, poor little maiden, will her life be wrapped in a pensive veil of gloom forever? Everyone is speaking of living an unfulfilling life. Elaine is only able to view the world through a mirror and the painting is a reflection of how sad and lonely she is at being cursed and leading a life of isolation than everyone in the world (Gehrman and Elizabeth 123). Tennyson uses Camelot, which was the name of the estate of King Arthur, and Shalott is included in almost eighteen of the total twenty stanzas of the poem.
This emphasizes on the importance of the place’s mystery. Moreover, the contemporary perceptions of Camelot as magnificent and harmonious comes from the poem of Tennyson. The project of the late career of Tennyson was to show the rise and fall of King Arthur. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria considered themselves as the descendants of King Arthur. The Lady weaving her magic web only sings her songs in a remote tower. She is a representation of the artist who isolated from the daily life happenings. When she puts aside her art and gazing on the real world, she is befallen by a curse and this leads her to meet her ultimate death. Therefore, this poem captures the conflict between the desire of the artist for involvement in social issues and the doubts on if these types of commitments are viable for an individual who is so much affiliated to artwork.
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