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Discussing 'Mariana' and 'The Lady of Shallot' by Alfred lord Tennyson.

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Introduction

'Mariana' and 'The Lady of Shallot' Alfred lord Tennyson's poems, 'Mariana' and 'The lady of Shallot' are based respectively around Shakespeare's play, 'Measure for measure' and Arthurian legend. The poems are both based on two women isolated from the outside world, Mariana is depressed and the lady feels a deep longing. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was an extremely talented and successful poet. At the height of his career he became the court's poet laureate. This is just one of his many successes. Despite living a reasonably depressive life such as living through the deaths of a brother, a son as well as two of his friends, one of which was Arthur Hallam whose death greatly influenced his work. He had many successful poems such as 'Mariana' and 'The Lady of Shallot' both of which are the focus of this essay. 'Mariana' (published 1830) originates from a Shakespearian play called 'measure for measure' it is based on a character in the play called Mariana who is abandoned by her lover, Antonio. The first line of the play is actually a direct quote from the play 'Mariana in the moated grange'. The poem tells of a lonely depressed woman, waiting for her lover to return sitting in solitary in a moated grange. She repeatedly talks of taking her own life but still has hope that her lover could return. Desperation for her lover to return, desire for death and depression due to being abandoned are the key issues that Mariana faces. 'The lady of shallot' (published in 1832) is based on an Arthurian legend where Camelot was the capital of King Arthur's realm. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that this is the reason she sacrificed her life, because she believed that her life wasn't worth living with out Lancelot and the grave is more favourable than a life of loneliness. She also wants to be one of the people going in and out of Camelot "I am half sick of shadows" This is also emphasized by the repetition of the word 'Camelot'. She weaves everything that she sees in the mirror, showing that she is obsessed with the outside and wants to be included. Whereas Mariana just wants her lover to return "'My life is dreary He cometh not,'" This repetition shows that she believes her life is dreary with out her lover. They are both the same in some cases, it is just that they are stuck in different situations for example they both have something beautiful to look at, they are just prevented from seeing it. Mariana has the sweet heaven but she cannot see it as she opens the curtains at night "When thickest dark did trance the sky, She drew her casement-curtain by." The lady of Shallot cannot look directly at Camelot which along with Lancelot is her only passion. Tennyson uses repetition to show what each woman are focused on, with Mariana it is every thing she is complaining about and with the lady ,it is Lancelot and Camelot, everything she wishes she could have. Despite Tennyson using contrasting settings for the two poems, they both depress the two women, Mariana feels even worse when she looks outside, she has nothing interesting to look at and even "the day is sad". ...read more.

Conclusion

The reason he has chosen women in such differing situations is to show that it is a problem for women from all walks of life this shows that money doesn't equal happiness. Just as Mariana waits for her lover to return, Victorian housewives hope for their men to return as they come back from dangerous jobs like mining or working in a work house. Mariana still hopes that her lover will return this is shown by her loyalty to him by reciting 'my life is dreary, He cometh not' Not only have I noticed similarities between the tow women but I have noticed a similarity between Tennyson himself and the lady. the two are both artists, Tennyson a poet and the lady,A weaver the lady weaves what she sees in the world ,in the mirror this is reminiscent of the process of poetry, writing about what he sees in the world around him. The weaving is also the way in which women expressed themselves when denied a voice in society. I have noticed the significance of the mirror shattering as well, not only as the lady's cursed implement but it seems to be a symbol of Tennyson life being shattered when his friend, Arthur Hallam died. Just as the lady's life began to fall apart when the mirror broke, so did Tennyson when Hallam died. The mirror gave a backwards image of the outside world meaning that her view of the world is false symbolic of Victorian housewives dreaming that they were in fact away in a fairytale. This is could be a reason why Tennyson chose this setting, as it is such a contrast to Victorian life. ...read more.

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