The famous depiction of Tennyson’s poem the Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse is a story from the medieval times about a lady who was cursed to stay alone in a tower weaving all her life. She could not leave the tower for that would lead to her death. She could not look out at the world, but could only see reflections of the world, so there she saw Sir Lancelot. At the sight of Sir Lancelot, she decided to leave the tower and go by boat down the river to the city of Camelot. She brought the curse upon her, and she died on the way there. A sad story indeed, but it tells us a lot about the miserable life of many women in the world today as it has been the case forever.
How many women are confined in the boundaries of four walls with the sole purpose of pleasing her husband, having children and taking care of the family for all her life? The only moment she has more free time for herself is when her children grow older and leave the house, and her husband becomes impotent and less demanding for sexual duties, as he might think they are, or any other duties she had to do all her life. She finds herself alone, abandoned, and her life seems to her as wasted as a dream. Everything happened too fast. She saw her children through every step of the way, but now they are gone. She is happy about it, especially if they are successful and happy with their lives, yet she misses this beautiful woman that was once there looking back at her in the mirror. Now she only sees a wrinkled old woman waiting like a beggar for a visit from one of her children to bring her back to those days when she used to mean something in this world. This might be a little exaggerated, or not at all. For some women, this is nothing close to the deprivation they have gone through from their being women in the first place. Many women feel contracted into mothers, a caretaker, a bed companion and a vessel that bring children to this world. While all these are an essential and a unique part of being a woman, but that is not everything. There is a lot more in a woman that meets the eye.
The Lady of Shallot decided to take the risk and leave her safe ground. She risked her life and died for it, but who might know what these little moments she took going down the river meant to her. These moments might be the highlight of her life; for the first time she had done what she wanted and not what she was supposed to do. How much do women do what they want in life now? Rich or poor, it does not matter. They always fall prey to the voracious will and desire of men. Men are the most discriminating species on this planet. They know how to put down women for not being as beautiful or sexy as they want them to be, and women live up to this false legend of being a wanted woman. Men created this legend and confined women in a cage like a lab mouse rolling and rolling trying to catch up an uncatchable train, which is youth. With the sign of the first wrinkle on her face, tension starts to build, for no matter how much she might mean to him, she starts to mean less and less to his eyes. Very few men know better, and very few women realize that they are doing exactly what men want them to do.
Imagine a story about a woman who tries to break free from her tedious lifestyle. She might abandon her children, her husband, and risk everything, just like the Lady of Shallot. What might her story be like? How many men will try to take advantage of a situation like that? How many women will try to make her fall, as no one will want her to do what they could have never done? How much will this adventure cost her? She does not necessarily need to run away with someone, or throw herself at any other man’s arms; she could simply run away toward the world. She might become very successful. She might reunite with her family after achieving success and the point that all this time. Maybe it is not about that they were slowing her down, but she could not have fought as well with her by her side having to worry about them all the time. Anything can happen in a story like that. I can see complex characters and sophisticated plots are already building in your mind. Write something about it. Life is worth writing for.
What do you do now...
Write a short story, or a poem about what you can discern from this painting and share a link to your story with us here on Hungry Writer. You can be generous and share a link to this writing prompt on your website or your social media.