Sunday, September 21, 2008

R02: The High and Mighty Lord Alfred Tennyson, Please Stand Up.

Okay. I know that I might not be the best English major in the world. I understand that there will be some readings I completely miss the point of, some pieces of work that I just fail to see the true meaning of, and in other words... Completely be Off the Mark.

But I don't know about this one. I need some guidance, some input. Some English Majors that can hear me out.

In another class, we are reading some of Lord Alf's poetry. Now, I've read his works in other classes and it went pretty well. I guess it was more open to interpretation or something. I don't know. All I do know is that we were to read "The Lady of Shalott" as an assignment and discuss it in class. We had to write a brief response on whether it was agreeable for The Lady to look out the window. I didn't really understand why the professor would ask that, given I was under the impression it was helpful for her to do something active instead of sitting around looming art and gathering wool in her head. So, I wrote what I thought on that and handed in my paper. ...Then on to classroom discussion. Of course, I opened my big mouth because Little Lacey Lee was confused, and it all went downhill from there.

Apparently, my reading/understanding of the poem was COMPLETELY off the mark. I truly don't know. I have line for line support of my interpretation, but was shut down on the basis that it was assumed I didn't. The problem is... I wasn't given a chance to support my view.

The "Proper" reading was that The Lady was placed in the tower by "someone," and was given the task of weaving works of art. She is forcibly isolated from the world, weaving and watching the world through the mirrors on the edge of her loom. She covets the outside world and wants to be of it, finally getting up from her work and seeing the back of Lancelot travelling down the road by her tower. She abandons her work, gets in a boat, writes The Lady of Shalott on the bow of it, and then lets the boat float down the river, singing a song. She dies, presumably from the cold. Lancelot sees her corpse and says, "She has a lovely face;/God in his mercy lend her grace,/The Lady of Shalott."

Okay. I understand why everyone who spoke up in class from that point on would read it such as they did, but one thing gets me. Okay, a lot of things about this really get me. But first and foremost... What evidence did they have that she was forced to be in that tower? Where anywhere in that poem does it say that she was required to do that work? Where, also, does it say that she was actually producing works of art? Specific art? Or, even, that she actually completed anything on that loom??? Also, she FELT as if there was a curse on her, but was there REALLY a curse on her? Or was it just that she couldn't get the courage to go out and live her life? Even when she sets sail, she's not rowing. She's just letting the current carry her. Wouldn't it stand to reason that if she knew she was going to die, and she did this all "for the love of Lancelot," as was said in class, that she'd rush to see him before she died? But she doesn't. And she drifts into the night, singing mournfully, and freezes to death.

Someone, anyone... Please read that poem. I swear on my degree audit that I have reasoning that she was actually freely living in this tower. PLEASE NOTE that imbowers means resides or rests in a bower, which is 1 : an attractive dwelling or retreat 2 : a lady's private apartment in a medieval hall or castle 3 : a shelter, as in a garden, made with tree boughs or vines twined together). Before I go on... Does it or does it not stand to reason that if she were being HELD there, Alfie would have used another word? Come on. Agree. You know it's tasty.

Moreover! I have line-by-line notes in my handy-dandy text here that completely agree with my reading of the text. I simply need to know what other people think Lord Alf might have meant in writing this poem. Honestly and sincerely, I want to channel Lord Alfred Tennyson. I need a Ouija board. It occured to me during class that it would probably be the only way to get a clear answer on my reading. Or any reading of the poem, for that matter!

I will say that I honestly do enjoy Tennyson's poetry (lest I actually get ahold of a Ouija board and he tries to kill me), but this one throws me for sort of a loop. I don't know if I'm just insane or totally disengaged from reality... But I swear. I saw it as a fantasy on Lady Shalott's part, assuming she was unable to get up.

I know that this post wasn't exactly helpful in understanding why I thought The Lady was weaving fantasies instead of actual works of art, so if you're incredibly curious I will go through it line by line. I am not going to do that off the bat because the purpose of this post is to react to something a reading in another class, not dissect it in yet another epic day-long post.

They are completely ruining my journal layout.