The poems I have chosen to study are ^aEUR~The Lady of Shallot, , ^aEUR~Mariana, and ^aEUR~Morte d, Arthur, . I have chosen these as they have strong links to the subjects being examined from the title of this essay. ^aEUR~The Lady of Shallot, involves the themes of Love, Belief and Doubt. ^aEUR~Mariana, is based around the themes of Love, Death and Doubt. While ^aEUR~Morte d'Arthur, conveys themes surrounding Belief and Death.
^aEUR~The Lady Of Shallot, is based in a castle tower overlooking the mediaeval town of Camelot. Described as having ^aEUR~Four grey walls, four grey towers, . Tennyson had read the story of which the poem is influenced in a book, but he adapted it and included the curse, the mirror, the song and the ^aEUR~Lady, weaving a tapestry. Each of these things can been seen as metaphors.
The Lady can be seen as a representative of all women in the Victorian period. Men were the dominant sex. The Lady being trapped in the tower and having a curse upon her is a sign of how life was; the women having little control over their own lives. Although Tennyson has set the poem in the past, the issues he has drawn into it would have been almost revolutionary. I think Tennyson may have used the idea of her seeing the world through a mirror as symbolism of how he regards his beliefs and God. Whilst he is alive and on a reality level he can only see God through a clouded glass, an image of his imagination, not the real thing.
This is true of The Lady of Shallot also, she cannot see the real world, everything she sees of it is through a reflection. ^aEUR~Shadows of the world appear, . Despite all these metaphors within the poem relating to Tennyson, s opinions and life, I think The Lady of Shallot is also a romantic figure. Tennyson uses many beautiful analogies to describe the area around Camelot. ^aEUR~Willows whiten, a spins quiver, . He makes the Lady sound very mysterious, but also humble and obedient ^aEUR~She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weave th steadily.
, This may also be describing the way women were viewed in the Victorian era, seen and not heard, or just as a servant to the man. The poem ends with a sadness, the Lady dies, after escaping from her captivity and breaking the curse. I think this again shows Tennyson, s religious beliefs. From saying that the Lady has lived her life in fear of breaking the curse then having her rebel against this and ending up dead, Tennyson may be doubting the reasonability behind Christianity; If someone does not believe in God, they can still be a good person, so how is it rational that they should go to hell? ^aEUR~She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The subject of ^aEUR~Mariana, is from a line in Shakespeare's play ^aEUR~Measure to Measure, .
"Mariana in the moated grange." This line describes a young woman waiting for her lover, who has abandoned her upon the loss of her dowry. The poem lacks movement, but flows simply with the emotion of the woman, s grief. Although Tennyson often describes her, and the scenery around her, using action words ^aEURoeHer tears fell^aEUR, ^aEURoeThe flitting of the bats^aEUR. The poem begins with the description of an abandoned farmhouse, or grange, in which the flower pots are covered in overgrown moss and a tree hangs from rusty nails on the wall.
The sheds stand abandoned and broken, and the straw covering the roof of the farmhouse is worn and full of weeds. A woman, standing near the farmhouse, is described in a four-line refrain that recurs -with slight changes- at the last lines of each of the poem's stanzas: "She only said, 'My life is dreary / He cometh not,' she said; / She said, 'I am aweary, aweary, / I would that I were dead!' " This poem, more than the other two, shows how Tennyson feels about love and sex. One of the most important symbols in the poem is the poplar tree described in the fourth and fifth stanzas. On one level, the poplar can be interpreted as providing the only break in an otherwise flat and even landscape "For leagues no other tree did mark / the level waste" and the shadow of the poplar falls on Mariana's bed when she is lovesick at night, suggesting her want of intimacy with her husband. Poplar trees are also symbols of broken promises, which may relate to the anguish the woman is going through and the fact she has been left waiting for her husband to return.
The first, fourth, and sixth stanzas can be grouped together, they are the only stanzas that take place in the daytime. Tennyson may be suggesting how those in-love feel when they are parted from their loved one, night being a metaphor for sadness. Each of these stanzas portray an unending present without any sense of the passage of time or the play of light and darkness. They alternate with the descriptions of forlorn and restless nights in which Mariana neither sleeps nor wakes. Mariana cries in the morning and evening^aEURoeHer tears fell with the dews at even/ Her tears fell ere the dews were dried^aEUR. The effect of this alternation between flat day and sleepless night may be Tennyson creating a sense of confused patterns of life.
Like The Lady of Shallot, Mariana has an enchanted feel. The abandoned grange seems to be under a spell or curse; Mariana is locked in her anguish and tormented emotions. She can perceive the world only through her dejection. All of Tennyson, s descriptions of the physical world serve as mainly psychological categories; it is not the grange, but the person, who has been abandoned and it seems her mind has been abandoned by her sense. Because Mariana is so upset, her farmhouse, although seeming to be incapable of emotion, seems depressed. Tennyson uses these descriptions to create great emotional force and "He cometh not" developing irony.
Like "The Lady of Sha lott", "Morte d'Arthur" represents one of Tennyson's early contributions to medievalism in poetry. The poem appears escapist but almost committed and immediately relevant to Tennyson, s own age. It suggests ways in which a modern poet living in times of advancing technology can still use myth and legend. Although based around myth, I think the main theme behind the poem is belief and death. Tennyson has Arthur saying, "Pray for my soul.
More things are wrought by prayer/ Than ^A this world ^A dreams of. Therefore, let thy voice/ Rise like a fountain for me night and day." He is asking for prayers for his soul rather than his body, that is the part of him that will live on. "For what are men better than sheep or goats/ That nourish a blind life in the brain, / If, knowing God they lift not hands of prayer/ Both for themselves and those who call them^A friend? For so the whole round earth is every way bound by chains of gold about the feet of God." Tennyson is saying we are ^aEUR~bound by chains of gold about the feet of ^A God, in our times of prayer. They are the thin threads that eventually will let us free of time and space^A to be with God. He evident ally is showing a strong and passionate view of religion.