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Literary Analysis: "Ulysses" And "The Lady Of Shalott"

1289 words - 5 pages

Tennyson’s abstract poetic structure provides comprehension difficulties in finding a single thematic idea. He intertwines historical allusions, along with deep and person feelings through one piece of work. The organic structure of certain Tennyson poetry presents a tone of uncertainty. While his unconventional works give a more solidified aura. Contrary in structure, mood, and tone, “Ulysses” and “The Lady of Shalott”, harbor the underlying theme of coveting to escape from their idle worlds.
The Lady of Shallot was not depicted as an actual character in the land of Camelot. “Only reapers, reaping early/ In among the bearded barley/ Hear a song that echoes clearly/ From the river winding clearly (“The Lady of Shalott” 28).” Only those who venture to the fields early in the morning are reluctant enough to hear the beautiful voice of the Lady. With an aesthetic voice, no such assumption is made to presume her unhappiness. “There she weaves by night and day/ A magic web with colours gay. / She has heard a whisper say, / To look down to Camelot. / She knows not what the curse may be, / And so she weaveth steadily, / And little other care hath she, / The Lady of Shalott (“The Lady of Shalott” 38).” As she weaves her picture in happy, gay colors, she alludes to having no other care in the world. She will be cursed if she looks to Camelot. Her weaving substitutes for human involvement, due to her confinement to the tower.
Similarly, Penelope used weaving as a means to keep men from courting her while Ulysses was away, as her substitute for human interaction. Penelope used this mechanism while Ulysses reached the pinnacle of his life, fighting in the Trojan War. Now living as an “idle king (“Ulysses” 1),” reminisces on the war days, illustrating his dissatisfaction with his current lifestyle. “I cannot rest from travel (“Ulysses” 6),” symbolizes a once adventurous life put on pause as time continues. His boredom and confined feelings further develop as he states, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, /To rust unburnish’d, mot to shine in use (“Ulysses” 22)!”Both Ulysses and the Lady of Shalott live idle lives of unhappiness. Ulysses has already lived a full life and strives for more, while the Lady of Shalott, never having lived a life is unaware of her misfortune.
The Lady of Shalott, confined in her tower, knows not of what lies outside the tower walls. “But in her web she still delights/ To weave the mirror’s magic sights, / For often through the silent nights (“The Lady of Shalott” 65). Unable to look through the window, she observes through a mirror and delighted at what she sees, weaves the image into her tapestry. “A funeral, with plumes and lights/ And music, went to Camelot; / Or when the Moon was overhead, / Came two young lovers lately wed (“The Lady of Shalott” 68). Viewing a funeral with lights and music and two young people ready to wed, her unhappiness becomes certain. The Lady of Shalott recognizes the better pleasures in...

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