The Lady of Shalott and Industrialized Misery
Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of the mid-Victorian's most celebrated poets of the time, was genius in "eloquently presenting the anxieties and aspirations of his era" (Longman p. 1909). Trademarks of Victorian life included questioning faith, the Bible, the past, and the self. More and more people were interested in the industry of man rather than the uniqueness of nature, and progress of society proved that man was made to dominate and take everything for himself. Tennyson greatly recognized this trend as "he called attention to the industrialized misery and revolutionary anger of the poor" (Longman p. 1909-08) produced by the industrial progress in the mid-1800s.
He noticed that as people delved into improving society, they at the same time lost their sense of humanity and innocence as they sped up industry and the making of material wealth for the well to-do. This loss of innocence is echoed in Tennyson's Arthurian lyrical poem "The Lady of Shalott" (Longman pp. 1913-1918).
Subtly expressing his opinion of the times in prose, he illustrated how deadly and destructive it is to look for experience and to change the peaceful past due to yearning for worldly pursuits. The Lady is isolated on the island of Shalott near the "many-tower'd Camelot" of the outside world (Tennyson, Longman p.1913: l. 5). She works hard on weaving her tapestry, and no one "hath seen her wave her hand [nor] seen her stand," she hides away tangled in her web of isolation (Tennyson, Longman p.1914: ll. 24, 25).