• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critical Commentary - Mariana

Extracts from this document...


Critical Commentary Mariana 'Mariana', written by Lord Alfred Tennyson - a poet of the romanticist era - revolves around one character only who awaits the arrival of her renegade lover who never arrives: Mariana. She is alluded to the character of the same name and demeanour in Shakespeare's play 'Measure for Measure'. The simplistic title consisting of only the character's name suggests that she is indeed the main subject of the poem. It begins with an epigraph, 'Mariana in the moated grange', taken from the aforementioned Shakespeare play. The epigraph offers the readers a glimpse of what is to come in the poem, and it does shed light on the fact that Mariana is an isolated figure (physically so, because she is surrounded by a moat) on a dilapidated grange. The concept of a dilapidated grange is emphasised in the first eight lines of the poem. The first line paints a picture of a dark, gloomy surrounding, as 'blackest moss' suggests. Not only is there moss, but also it is black. The colour black often connotes evil and strange nightly mysterious deeds. It 'thickly crust[ed]' the flower-plots, suggesting a long time has passed since the garden and the house was tended to, as does 'rusted nails'. Tennyson also describes the 'unlifted' clinking latch, therefore suggestive of the fact that nobody has entered or been out of the house for a considerable length of time. ...read more.


All around Mariana are 'glooming flats', connoting perhaps barren and lifeless land. In the night, she laments how 'the night is dreary' and goes on to say 'He cometh not', and 'I am aweary, aweary'. The only change in the refrains throughout the poem is of the words 'life', 'night' and 'day'. This suggests that everything is the same to her, day or night because of her irrevocable suffering; however, it does still imply that there is a transience of time, and that life still passes by despite her indifference towards it. In Mariana's world it seems always to be dark; in the third stanza, the 'c**k sung out ere light' and she awakes to a 'gray-eyed morn'. This exemplifies the use of pathetic fallacy yet again, where the surroundings aptly reflect Mariana's emotions. Nightly sounds such as the night-fowl 'crowing', and the oxen's 'low' contribute to an eldritch atmosphere, and that she is surrounded by nobody but sinister animals. Her isolation is emphasised further in the line 'About the lonely moated grange'. She has little faith in the return of her lover, so much that even in sleep, she 'walk[s] forlorn'. The fourth stanza goes on to describe the surroundings of the grange, a stone-cast from the wall away. Everything beyond the grange is, also, still: the 'sluice with blacken'd waters slept' and 'marish mosses crept'. ...read more.


There is further reference to the 'wooing wind aloof the poplar made', underscoring her desperation for her lover. The personification of the wind suggests that the sound is indeed amplified in Mariana's senses, thus highlighting her loneliness once more. The 'thick moted sunbeam' suggests that there is dust when rays of light cut through the air, indicative of the derelict nature of the house. These rays of light are 'sloping towards his western bower', suggesting that it is sunset. Sunsets typically allude to the end of a day, and this aptly forms a closure to the poem. it could, however, also allude to the 'sunset of her life' as she does go on to say ' I am very dreary/ He will not come', the tone being definitive as opposed to the refrains in the other lines which merely say 'My life is dreary/ He cometh not'. Mariana also for the first time weeps, which signals the culmination of her desperation and jadedness. The tone of the poem is a contemplative one, and exudes an air of lament. The poem constitutes no action and no narrative whatsoever. In effect, it seems to be a 'freeze frame' of Mariana's life at the grange, thus capturing the essence of her misery whilst she ponders and bemoans the nonappearance of her lover. The rhyme scheme is reflective of the era Tennyson lived in, where most poems were meticulously structured; the refrain contributes to a mysterious chant-like effect that altogether represents the monotony of Mariana's life. Annabel Tan 12i; Ms Leng ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Alfred Lord Tennyson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The writer makes good efforts to link subject matter with poetic technique, which is what a 'critical commentary' should do. Sometimes, however, the analysis lacks sharp focus and precision.
It might also be worth considering alternative ways of structuring a critical commentary. Here, the approach is to give a stanza by stanza account, picking out what seem to be relevant points. Alternative approaches might be more successful in giving an overview of the poem, for example a section on the tone and mood of the poem; another on pathetic fallacy,including the contribution made by alliteration, assonance, personification;another on the effects of rhyme and rhythm and another on how all this might affect reader response.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 21/03/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Alfred Lord Tennyson essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Tennyson create a memorable character in Ulysses?

    3 star(s)

    These suggest that Ulysses sees his son as an efficient, but dull and unheroic, administrator. He believes that Telemachus is therefore a suitable leader, as he is an unheroic leader of unheroic people. When Ulysses introduces Telemachus, he speaks with contempt and says 'this is my son', as if he is trying to convince himself.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    A later poet said 'Old men ought to be explorers'. What do you think ...

    3 star(s)

    The poet might therefore feel that this should be used to the advantage of others rather and that the aged should be using the knowledge through experience that they have by exploring in some way. After all, knowledge can only be passed on from one generation to the next, by each passing it down.

  1. Peer reviewed

    How does Tennyson bring mental pessimism and Victorian optimism in his use of myths ...

    3 star(s)

    Tennyson's Ulysses is, in fact, an embodiment of passion for knowledge, for the exploration of its limitless fields, for the annexation of new kingdoms of science and thoughts. As a result Ulysses utters: " To follow knowledge like a sinking star Beyond the utmost bound of human thought."

  2. Analysis of 'Break, Break, Break' by Tennyson

    for the unrelenting nature of time; the speaker yearns to be reunited with the subject of the poem, who the reader can only assume either passed away. The 'stately ships', however, could also be viewed as a metaphor for individuals who have passed away, retreating to their 'haven under the hill'.

  1. I think that in Tennyson's poems, 'The lady of Shalott' and 'Mariana', the central ...

    'Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors, old footsteps trod the upper floors, old voices called her from without...' Up until the last stanza in the poem the female had kept using present tense, despite how hopeless her situation seems she kept hoping.

  2. Tennysons Poetry is defined by a desire to escape the world rather than engage ...

    There is a heavy contrast between the 'ringing plains of windy Troy', 'ringing' evoking images of sound and war in reference to the noise made by metal on metal, and 'windy' being a representation if passion, action and adventure, as opposed to the 'barren crags' of Ithaca which evokes imagery of sheer emptiness or lack of action.

  1. Comparative Essay: Frost and Tennyson

    While the individual in the first poem was resigned toward his fate, Ulysses wants to change his fate by instead of staying and ruling over his land like he should. Instead traveling one last time before his death is more appealing.

  2. 'The Lotus Eaters' by Tennyson

    Following on from the point of infatuation; the poem is making a statement about falling victim to temptation. This conflicted with the traditional Victorian stance on moral values, while also providing a view on one's place in the world after growing old.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work