In ‘Godiva’ Tennyson begins with the use of first person narrative in the short refrain at the beginning of the poem, which effectively separates him from the story itself and also the medieval past in which it is set. Tennyson represents himself as hanging round with ‘grooms and porters’, maybe showing him in a noble light as he is willing to lower himself to the lower classes, thus linking him with Lady Godiva’s gesture of solidarity. The first person narration also adds a certain personal tint to open the poem; it is something, which Tennyson really feels strongly about.
Alternatively the rest of the tale is written in the third person, and as such allows the reader to form his or her own opinion on whether we can still learn from the past or whether it is too far away. Whilst the story is technically Tennyson’s, it is not from his perspective. It adds a more story-like feel to the poem to show us that his poem is only an adaption of the original story.
Tennyson also uses direct speech, which breathes some life into the characters of the story and makes them seem more like real people. Often in myths and legends we forget that the people in them are actually real. Also allows the reader to sympathise more with Godiva’s cause as we can actually hear exactly what she thinks and says to the Earl. Justifies her trip through Coventry in the nude.
Tennyson deliberately uses archaic language that is out dated and old fashioned even in Victorian times. Words such as ‘blade’ and ‘ay, ay, ay’ are good examples of this blatant archaism. The archaic language places the time period of the poem distinctly in the past and separates it clearly from modern times in which Tennyson is writing. It also displays certain nostalgia for the past and the stories of English myth and legends on Tennyson’s part. It also shows that there are still things we can learn from the past, even in an age of discovery like the industrial revolution. Archaic language is...
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