Tennyson's Women

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THE WOMEN IN TENNYSON’S POEMS ARE PRESENTED AS VICTIMS OF A MALE WORLD. HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE?

Alfred Tennyson is a poet who lived during the Victorian Age. During this period, women were considered inferior to men: for example, women were not encouraged to play a public role and they had not the right of suffrage. As far as Tennyson’s poetry is concerned, women are shown as victims of the society and of their husbands. On the other hand, they demonstrate to have courage and to fight for what they believe in, especially in Godiva.

In the poem Mariana, it is perceptible that the woman is cut off from public life. Tennyson manipulates the narrative so that the reader understands what are Mariana’s social conditions and how she feels: for example, at the beginning of the poem an abandoned farmhouse is described, and it is identifiable to her state of mind. “The sparrow’s chirrup on the roof, / The slow clock ticking, and the sound / Which to the wooing wind aloof /The poplar made, did all confound / Her sense”. In these lines Mariana is confounded by the sounds of the countryside, she is always alone, far from the society, and time never goes by. The reader wonders about the contrast between her loneliness and what his beloved may be doing: he is the man and he can participate to the social life. In the whole poem, the woman expresses herself in just four lines, which are repeated as a refrain. That is the only moment in which she says something: women were not encouraged to expose themselves. Moreover, the reference to Measure for Measure indicates the vulnerability of the women whose only point of interest to their men is their dowry, without which betrothed abandons them.

Tennyson better shows the relationship between husband and wife in the poem Godiva. In fact, during the Victorian Age the marriage was seen as a business transaction in which the wife had not her own source of income. Once married all rights and heritance of the woman were immediately...
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