The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson tells of a woman cut off from society and human interactions - the simplicities of life. A feminist reading can be applied to this poem, as Tennyson explores ideas of deprivation, passivity and male dominance through diction, symbolism and characterisation.
Male dominance is a prominent ideas conveyed in this poem. The Lady's isolation, caused by a curse, very much oppresses females of the Victorian Era. "She has heard a whisper say, "A curse is on her if she stay" (Line 48-49). The Lady is representative of the woman figure in the Victorian Era, while the curse maybe seen as the man of these times. The woman is oppressed and silenced by the man, he achieve this through the Lady's lack of knowledge – "She knows not what the curse maybe" (line 51)- as knowledge maybe perceived as power. "She hath no loyal knight and true" (line 71). In the Victorian Era, it is clear the male figure is of upmost significance and as a result the need to mention, "she hath no loyal knight." is established. Again the male figure controls and overpowers society. In addition, the Lady first presents herself as somewhat decisive when a male enters her 'world'. "Sang Sir Lancelot/ She left the web, she left the room". (Line 108-109). It is suggested that without male influence, women are without agency, again oppressing the woman of the Victorian era. Therefore, through symbolism, characterisation and a representation of status and agency, women are very much oppressed and silenced through male dominance and a sense of patriarchy.
In addition to male dominance, deprivation is a significant idea explored in "The Lady of Shalott". The idea that women are without the simplicities of life – as is the Lady - introduces a sense of unimportance of incapability. "The island of Shalott/ The Lady of Shalott ' (line 9 and 18).