Themes and Techniques in Poems

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Alfred Tennyson
(1808 – 1892)



Mariana is a poem about loneliness, isolation, deprivation and the physical and psychological consequences of this state of being. It talks about a woman, Mariana, who is hopeless and in melancholy because she is waiting for her lover that did not come back. This is shown by Mariana's hallucinations, pain and depression.


The poem has a third person narrator who is omniscient in which he knows everything about Mariana as well as what is going on inside her mind. The poet speaks indirectly because he doesn't want to tell us about his isolation, in which he achieved some objectivity from his personal experience.

"Merlin and the Gleam"


Merlin and the Gleam is a poem about human will. It celebrates the human capacity of life and struggle and focuses on human potential and power of carrying on in life in hard and good times. It, also, emphasizes human power and human will and its contrast with nature.


Dramatic monologue: a single speaker, that is, Merlin not the poet. There is an audience in the poem which is the sailor. There is an action that is the journey of following the gleam.

"Crossing the Bar"


This poem is about death and faith. It shows that some people are dying desperately and others faithfully and willingly. The speaker is not afraid of dying; he is welcoming death unresistingly (don't cry, I will meet my creator). He has faith and no doubts in which he is dying a believer.


This poem is lyrical: there is a first-person speaker which we can identify with the poet. He speaks of his own experience in a subjective way by using first-person (I). However, Tennyson manages to maintain an objective stance by having an objective case in the poem that is "death" which is a universal experience.

"The Woman's Cause is Man's"


The poem is about the relationship between men and women in the Victorian age. It attempts to make a better relationship between them not by equality because each one completes the other, but by harmony. However, this ideal relationship is presented by the masculine voice whereas the feminine voice was doubtful and surprised because of the society's negative treatment of women.


There is a dialogue between a man and a woman. It is not a dramatic monologue because there are two speakers which are the prince and the princess. At first, the prince offers solutions in an attempt to make a better relationship between men and women. However, at the end, the listener, which is the princess, participates and has a developing character in which she expresses surprise at the prince's stance.

Tennyson's Techniques

Mariana: Omniscient narrator.

Merlin and the Gleam: Dramatic monologue.

Crossing the Bar: Lyrical: 1st person speaker.

The Women's Cause is Man's: Dialogue.

They are not Romantic and they are all objective.

Victorian Characteristics in Tennyson's

1) Objectivity in Tennyson's

Objectivity: Impersonalizing. The poet is absent and talks about other people's experience without any emotional involvement.

Merlin and the Gleam & The Woman's Cause is Man's: they are more objective than the others because there is a chance that the characters could develop on their own. The poet is completely out of the picture.

Mariana: omniscient, objective narrator. He is very polite; he doesn't force any judgment. He is an implied voice in the poem. He is respective of the need of objectivity in the Victorian poetry.

Crossing the Bar: He has more presence. It is his experience and he wants to share it but there is a degree of objectivity because it is a universal experience.

(2) Humanism in Tennyson's

Humanism in titles:

Mariana: Name of a human being.

Merlin and the Gleam: Merlin is a person that is a magician.

Crossing the Bar: An experience that humans do; a sea journey.

The Woman's...
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