The themes of loneliness, exile and escape from reality are important aspects that characterize the works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. During the 1800s, these aspects differentiated him from other Victorian poets, distinguishing him as one of the most popular poets of the Victorian era. In Tennyson's poems Mariana, and The Lady of Shalott, the artists express loneliness in their isolation from the rest of the world. The following essay will compare and contrast the displays of temporary and permanent loneliness of these artists through Tennyson's use of imagery, repetition, and word painting.
Tennyson's extensive repetition in The Lady of Shalott and Mariana is an important feature in establishing feelings of loneliness. In Marianna, the last four lines of every stanza are repeated. For example, She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead" (8-12).
These four lines represent the emotions that Mariana is feeling in her lonely state. She is alone and exhausted, as she waits for her loved one to join her. Tennyson ultimately allows the reader to better understand the way Mariana feels by repeating her emotions several times throughout the poem. Tennyson uses repetition to express these feelings because Mariana's life is a constant repetition of the same suffering emotions day in and day out as she chooses not to act upon it. This is very much like the repetition found in The Lady of Shalott. Lines five and ten in each stanza of the poem show the repetition of "Camelot" and "Shalott". Tennyson repeats these words many times throughout the poem to show the isolation of the Lady in her separate, artistic world of Shalott and therefore away from the real, everyday world of Camelot. This division of worlds is an important distinction that the reader must first see in order to truly understand the state of loneliness that the Lady is subjected to.
Tennyson also shows some fluctuations in his repetition. In The Lady of Shalott, the reiteration of "Camelot" and "Shalott" is altered in Part III by adding "Lancelot" into the repeating cycle. This adjustment is important to the poem because Lancelot causes the Lady's to comprehend her loneliness within her separate world. The modification of the uniformity also creates the turning point of the poem, where the Lady disobeys the curse and flees from her tower in pursuit of Lancelot. Not only does Tennyson create an alteration in his poetic structure, but he also intensifies, for the reader, the changing perspective of the Lady. Tennyson conditions his readers using repetition, thus, making it easy to pick on the change because the addition of "Lancelot" takes the reader's mind away from the natural rhythm of the poem. Changing only one word of the poem enables Tennyson to create a complete shift of the artist's life, and in turn, accomplishes his desired ending of the Lady's death.
This fluctuation in repetition is also evident in Mariana. In the first line of each of the four-line repetitions, is the word "dreary". In stanzas one and four, Mariana says, "My life is dreary" (8 and 45); in stanza two and five, "The night is dreary" (21 and 57), in stanzas three and six; "The day is dreary" (33 and 69), and finally in stanza seven, Tennyson shows Mariana claiming "I am very dreary" (81). Originally, Mariana states that her life, that is, her entire universe and all that surrounds her, is dreary. This introduces Mariana's loneliness at the very beginning of the poem. Tennyson uses the universe's dreariness to accent that of the night and day. He believes that it is important to show that not only is Mariana feeling lonely inside but that her surrounding environment is not allowing for her situation or her feelings to become any better. By doing so, Tennyson is showing that it will be difficult for Mariana to overcome her emotions and feelings of loneliness because the universe around her...
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