Mariana-A Dismal Being Essay, Research Paper
Growing up in a troubled atmosphere, Alfred Lord Tennyson, with his two older brothers, left to attend Trinity College in Cambridge. Working under the tutelage of William Whewell, he had the opportunity to write poetry (Alfred). “Mariana,” published three years later, displays the depth that Tennyson learned to write while in Cambridge. Mariana, as shown by Tennyson, lives her downtrodden life in solitude, hiding her emotions and living in darkness, not allowing happiness to enter. Tennyson illustrates this pathetic fallacy, or emotional deception, by creating an interior as well as an exterior landscape through which the reader receives both subjective and objective descriptions. The structure of the poem and its repetition play an important role in representing Mariana s distorted view of life. Many key phrases or ideas repeated in the poem display Tennyson’s meaning. In the landscape description, an abyss or “moated grange” constantly reappear and represent the trap holding Mariana s emotions, ideas, and happiness. The last four lines of each stanza, also repeated, vary only slightly at the end. Throughout the poem, Tennyson includes many aspects which aid in the portrayal of Mariana s situation and her dismal existence. In order to illustrate Mariana s forlorn soul, Tennyson creates an interior landscape portraying her mind. This interior landscape, intertwined within the external landscape, shows both subjective and objective levels of understanding. On the objective level is the reality which Mariana lives in while the subjective level describes her mind and thoughts (Everett). John Ruskin calls this usage of an inner view pathetic fallacy. Pathetic fallacy literally means emotional deception and allows the poet, who “tells us more about his state of mind, his interior world, than he does about the world which exists outside his mind,” to describe “this psychological truth that moves and delights the reader” (Landow pg. 1). Tennyson does just this in “Mariana.” The majority of the poem describes Mariana s thoughts and emotions. She hides her feelings and lives in a state of darkness where all is discolored and dreary. Tennyson uses many old and decrepit items such as “rusted nails” (line 3) and “broken sheds” (line 5) to illustrate an interior landscape portraying the feelings and containment of Mariana. These items represent the state of disrepair into which Mariana s life has fallen. In the first Stanza, Tennyson describes a “clinking latch” (line 6) on the door to an “ancient thatch” (line 7) that remains unlifted. Mariana s emotions are described by this unused latch and thatch. She has hidden them and allowed them to grow old. She locked them away and they are barely recognizable in their state of disrepair. Since she buried her true feelings, she develops a set of pseudo-emotions that attempt to run her life and bring her out of her unhappiness. Tennyson compares Mariana s search for her pathos to the sun. Its daytime journey in the sky from east in the morning to west at night shows a time of enlightenment when Mariana could look for her emotions, yet she does not. Afraid of what she might find, Mariana only emerges at night when she may hide in the darkness. “She drew her casement-curtain” (line 19) as the darkness filled the sky and let the darkness flow through the house.Tennyson, using pathetic fallacy, is able to “dramatize grief” in his landscape description (Landow pg. 1). In darkness, Mariana walks around aimlessly, searching for the answers to her problems, yet she finds nothing. With her true emotions hidden by the darkness, she lives her life with a false set of ideas and feelings. These feelings allow her to wallow in her grief and forget true happiness. Mariana s life of darkness permanently shrouds the remains of her long sought after emotions. After creating and physical description of her mind and thoughts, Tennyson makes a transition from Mariana s mind to her life. Upon her return before the sun rises, she reenters the darkness of her house. Within the house, the doors creak, the wainscot is molding, and a mouse scurries about. In the new description, Mariana looks at her past and “everything is colored by [her] grief” (Landow pg. 2). She cannot truly see the past. “The slow clock ticking” (line 74) represents her life slowly passing by. Her situation has not improved in the past and the clock shows how hopeless it will be without her true emotions. Her memories, illustrated in the “faces footsteps [and] voices,” (lines 66-68) haunt her. These ideas of despair, searching, and emotion are repeated every eight lines in a four line phrase.Ending each of the seven stanza s with the same four line phrase written in iambic tetrameter, Tennyson attempts to engrave their meaning in the readers mind. Their repetition constitutes one third of the entire poem (Everett). Similar in style to “The Lady of Shalott” and Edgar Allan Poe s “The Raven,” where the words “Camelot” and “nevermore,” respectively, are repeated, the meaning held in these words is intended to stay with the reader. In “Mariana,” the repetition used by Tennyson is not extremely catchy or memorable, in fact, it’s rather hard to say over and over, yet its meaning carries over to the reader as well as a single musical word. The four lines:
She only said, The day is dreary, He cometh not, she said; She said, I am aweary, aweary, I would that I were dead! establish the base intent for the poem. The meaning carried in these words, such as in Camelot and nevermore, express the theme that the rest of poem describes. Tennyson depicts Mariana as poor, desperate, and in emotional despair through his repetition. These characteristics described throughout the poem portray the landscape in such a way as to describe the feelings of Mariana. In these very important ending lines, Tennyson summarizes the meaning of the poem and the despair of Mariana. “According to Harold Bloom [her] consciousness [is] representing itself as being all too happy in its unhappiness to want anything more She doesn t want or need the other who cometh not ” (Everett). Her emotions have been hidden so long that she rests “aweary” and in gloom. She has been happy too long with her dejected life that she doesn t want to find true happiness again. The fact that he does not come is arbitrary to her dreariness as a direct result of her lack of true emotions. The pseudo-feelings running her life want what she perceives as happiness. If he ever came, she would be lost in what to do and become more miserable. The poem ends with her last, final cry for help; “Oh God, that I were dead!” (line 84)Aiding in his representation of an interior landscape, Tennyson uses both structure and imagery in his “Mariana” to illustrate her despair and lack of true emotion. His repetition of certain images, such as darkness and the “moated grange,” show their importance and relevance to the poem. The image of an abyss or “moated grange,” repeated prior to the repetition of the four key lines, illustrate the unknown and darkness in which Mariana lives. Tennyson received the idea for the moated grange as well as the name Mariana from Shakespeare. ” There at the moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana. from Shakespeare s Measure for Measure III i 212ff” (LECTURE). A moated grange is a farm or country dwelling house surrounded by a moat and isolated from the world. The moat appears in the poem s illustration of the landscape in the forth stanza as “blacken d waters” (line 38), and the farmhouse in the opening stanza. In the description of Mariana s mind, the moated grange represents the great abyss through which she stumbles.Repeated in many of the stanzas, this bleak flat challenges Mariana to look for her emotions. Tennyson describes this emptiness as a moated grange, the glooming flats, the level waste, the rounding gray, and her brow. All of his descriptions portray the abyss as something that engulfs all surrounding environment and prevents happiness. In Tennyson s inclusion of Mariana s brow, he alludes that her brain, her mind is part of this abyss. Her thoughts escape and enter the darkness where they lose shape and are lost under the years of dust. The moated grange is also dark and old. It shows how Mariana lives her life in darkness and prohibits foreign objects from entering her dismal life. Mariana s true emotions rest somewhere in this large gray area.Alfred Lord Tennyson describes the life and mind of the dejected Mariana, a poor soul who has lost her true emotions, in his poem, “Mariana.” He creates a landscape portrayal of her mind in order to give the reader a thorough vision of the decrepitude of her state. Mariana hides her feelings in a darkness that controls her life. The moated grange in which she lives acts as an abyss and vacuum, engulfing all that enters and keeps Mariana s emotions and past hidden. The four lines repeated at the end of every stanza depict Tennyson s views toward Mariana. She hides her emotions and allows the darkness to cloud her life. “Mariana” describes the life of a poor dismal soul who has hidden their emotions and has become happy living in unhappiness. Tennyson utilizes many writing aspect to achieve the task of writing a poem describing the desolate life of one who lives in darkness and hides from their true feelings.
“Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Brief Biography.” 5 January 1999 http://www.kings.k12.us/ huhsd/huhsw/lib_home/russ/mic/tennybio.html>Everett, Glenn. U. of Tennessee. “Alfred Tennyson s Mariana.” 4 January 1999 http:// mirrors.org.sg/victorian/tennyson/mariana/html>Landow, George P. Brown University. “Ruskin s Discussion of the Pathetic Fallacy.” 4 January 1999 http://mirrors.org.sg/victorian/tech/pathfall.html>”LECTURE; XXX.” Tennyson s Mariana; Illustrating Texts. 4 January 1999 http://www. brighton.ac.uk/design/MA.COURSE/Lmariana.html>Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. “Mariana.” Alfred Lord Tennyson s Mariana. 5 January 1999 http://members.tripod.com/ IMAHH/mara.htm>Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. “Mariana.” The Poems of Alfred Tennyson. Pg. 8 A. L. Burt Company. New York, 1974