How Does the Writer Tell the Story in Godiva?

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Godiva is poem written by Alfred Tennyson about a well known myth regarding a woman named Godiva. The Earl who ruled Coventry wanted the people to pay more tax which they could not afford. Godiva asked him to lower the tax, and the Earl told her he would repeal the tax if she rode through the town naked. Godiva therefore agreed to this, and the townspeople stayed inside and shut all the doors and windows so no one would see Godiva, allowing her to keep her dignity. Godiva rode through the town naked on her horse, however someone peeped through a hole to see Godiva exposed. His eyes shrivelled into his head and he never saw Godiva naked. She saved her people by sacrificing herself and took the tax away. Godiva is a narrative poem written in blank verse and unrhymed iambic pentameter. This form shows respect towards the character, and helps to enhance the poem’s message. Rather than being lyrical, the narrative form and slow pace gives Godiva dignity and admiration for the sacrifice she made to save her people. Godiva is the Earl’s wife, so in actual fact she is Lady Godiva, however Tennyson chooses not to use her status to enhance the meaning and inspiration behind what she did. It’s not about who she is; it’s about what she did. The poem is written in chronological order regarding the event. This helps the reader understand the situation better, as we understand the desperation and pain of the townspeople, and then we are taken on Godiva’s journey through the town. As a reader we feel the tension of every stride of her sacrifice, and therefore have a full understanding of the appreciation and respect the people feel towards Godiva. Tennyson has written this poem in third person narrative. There is also some direct speech present. The direct speech on line 15 is effective because it highlights the people’s desperation, and Godiva’s voice on line 20 echoes the townspeople. The poem begins with a four line stanza in first person as if it is the poet speaking. As a...
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