Aspects of Narrative within Alfred Tennyson poems - TIME AND SEQUENCE

If you study English Literature at AS level with AQA, then these revision cards will help most with Section B of the paper, where it will ask you to write about three texts in terms of a selected aspect of narrative. These revision cards show key points about each aspect of narrative from the Tennyson poems: Mariana, Godiva, Tithonus and The Lady of Shalott.

This set focuses on Time and Sequence.


Time and Sequence - Mariana

Mariana's constant battle of daily life is shown through the repetitive refrain, and in particular the line: "I am aweary, aweary".

"Upon the middle of the night... she seem'd to walk forlorn" - shows how she's getting no sleep because she is in a state of distress.

"the slow-clock ticking" - she's stuck in a time-warp whilst waiting for her man.

There's a distinct change in state at the end of the poem, within the refrain: "He will not come" shows a certainty, which hints at realisation. It also implies that Mariana committed suicide.

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Time and Sequence - Godiva

The first stanza introduces the plot: "wife to that grim Earl" - she starts off as an object, and possession of a man's - a true patriarchal relationship.

"made war upon each other for an hour" - this shows the stress she is put under at the idea of riding naked through the town.

The third stanza is full of romantic description.

"She rode forth, clothed on with chastity" - she is powerful and respected

"made her cheek flame" - this shows liberation.

"his eyes...shrivell'd into darkness" shows the consequences of voyeurism, especially when you don't respect someone who is trying to help you.

"she took the tax... built herself an everlasting name" - shows a woman accomplishing something without the help of a man, and she receives eternal credit for that, surpassing the power of the Earl.

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Time and Sequence - Tithonus

The repetition of "the woods decay" shows the natural course of life that Tithonus desperately wants to experience, but can't.

"Alas!" - abrupt, as if waking from the fantasy of dying.

"Gray shadow" uses colour symbolism to show a bleak future for Tithonus

"Then didst thou grant mine asking..." - his wish was granted, this is a flashback.

"immortal age beside immortal youth... to vary from the kindly race of men" - these quotes show an early realisation from Tithonus in the poem, that he has made the wrong choice, probably because he has been living through it for so long, because he can't die.

"of happy men that have the power to die" - he is jealous of everyone.

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Time and Sequence - The Lady of Shalott

"the silent isle imbowers The Lady of Shalott" - shows isolation

"Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott" - it's not known whether she is real, which is a sad existence.

"she weaves by night and day" - a creative response and escapism to her entrapment.

"I am half sick of shadows" - she is depressed and bitter

"bold sir Lancelot", "sparkled", "gemmy", "golden", "silver", "burning flame" - a lexical field of admiration shows that she is infatuated with Lancelot.

"mournful", "blood was frozen slowly" shows death, which is a tragic end to her.

"she has a lovely face" - a shallow end from Lancelot, and it is worth contemplating whether Lady Shalott's risk was worth this kind of response.

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This is a useful look at two of the narrative blocks and the characters too; you could add the remaining five blocks and use this as a starting point to link the different ideas together.

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