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

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'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. it is a story of the lady of shallot, stuck on an island in a tower, put under a spell .she is forced to look at every thing through a mirror and if she does look directly at Camelot then she will die. She builds up a strong passion for Sir Lancelot and becomes distressed with the confines of the tower that when she sees Sir Lance lot entering Camelot, she leaves and floats down a river, in a boat, down to Camelot and then dies when she sees Sir Lancelot, just for a glimpse of him. The lady of shallot experiences longing to be a part of the outside world, lust for Lancelot and loneliness due to living in solitary. These are the key factors which drive the lady to take her own life despite having the choice to live.

Tennyson describes the Grange surrounding Mariana very vividly and intricately, using a range of adjectives giving you an image that is easy to visualise. As many of the adjectives are negative, they give the impression that the grange is run down. Just in the first five lines of the poem, there are references to the grange like: "blackest moss", "rusted nails" and "broken sheds".

Tennyson's diction implies that the grange is neglected, almost derelict. Such words as "rusted" and "broken" emphasize the state of decay that the grange is in.

He uses the Grange and the land surrounding the grange and as psychological landscape to reflect how Mariana feels. One of the techniques he uses is personification:

"The broken sheds looked sad and strange." It is showing that everything Mariana has to look at is also feeling sad and gloomy .she has nothing to look at of natural beauty,
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"She could not look on the sweet heaven."

This probably makes her more depressed.

The lady of shallot also contains pathetic fallacy, although it does not seem so initially, she wants to be social and talk with everyone in Camelot. The land reflects this by showing everyone else in the poem doing this and she feels excluded" a troop of damsels glad,

Goes by to tower'd Camelot;"

Every one passes the tower without a second thought.

The animals mentioned also give a clearer description of how isolated the grange is .Night fowl and ...

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