Narrative Techniques: Mariana

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  • Created by: Dany1995
  • Created on: 04-05-14 15:28

Description

Inspired by Shakespeare's comedy 'Measure for Measure', Tennyson's 'Mariana' recounts the story of a woman abandoned by her lover and left to the isolation and melacholy of the 'moated grange' where she resides, desperately awaiting the arrival of her love interest. 

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Form

The poem is composed by seven 12-line stanzas which follow a complicated rhyme scheme (ABABCDDCEFEF). The stanzas are preceded by a quote from Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure'. The use of intertextuality allows the reader to further understand the character of Mariana and her story, of which little information is given in the poem. Each stanza consists of 8 lines of narrative description and four of repeated direct speech. The use of extreme repetition creates a sense of monotony and inactivity which reinforces the description of Mariana's dull and monotonous life. 

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Mariana: Setting

The description of the setting is extremely important as it is predominant throughout the poem. The only setting that Tenyson presents t the reader is that of the lonely 'moated grange' where mariana lives. This setting is portrayed in an extremely negative light: everything is grim, dreary and unwelcoming. There are constant references to death and decay: the 'flower-pots', no longer cared for, are wilting and 'crusted' with 'blackest moss', the nail is 'rusted', the 'thatch' is 'ancient', 'weeded and worn' and the 'wainscot' is 'mouldering'. There is an underlying sense that this place was once beautiful, making the description a picture of fallen splendour. There is an insistence on the darkness of the setting, which contributes to its eerie and sinister feel: at night, a 'thickest black' pervades the scene and, as sunrise approaches, animal sounds cna be ehard 'from the dark. Even the morning light is unrecognised and negatively portrayed: the morning is 'grey-eyed' and teh sunset is a thick-moted sunbeam'. The setting is fundamental for understading the poem also because of Tennyson's use of pathetic phallacy; the reader comes to know Mariana's despair only through the vivid and detailed description of her surroundings. Like the place she lives in, she too was suposedly once beautiful and cheerful, bu is now wilting and dying of desperation and melancholy. Some of the references to the setting explicitly link her to her surroundings: she cries 'with the dews' and 'until they are dried'. The image of the 'sluice', which is a cntrolled water canal, may metaphorically allude to her empriosonment, both both physical and psychological.  

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Mariana: Time frame and Structure

There is not a specific time frame in the story, as we witness `mariana's behaviour and snippets of her day to day life without knowing when they occurred. The intertextual reference allows us to guess that the events take place after the Shakespeare-inspired character has been abandoned by the lfe of ehr lfie. The use of pathetic phallacy in describing the old and wilting setting may indicate that she is ageing. However, besides this, the reader has no otehr indication to the time frame. This plays a fundamental role in the poem, as the story does not unfold conventionally and there is not beginning and no end. This reinforces the fact that Mariana jas 'no hope of change'. Every day and every night, upon seeing that her loved one 'cometh not', she feels 'aweary' and wishes she 'were dead'. Thus the structure is important as it creates a sense of tortorous monotony that gives the reader an insight into the protagonist's feelings. The last stanza, however, though it doesn;t provide an ending it is a culmination of Mariana's feelings of despair and self-abhorrance. This is shown in the minor changes of the repeated refrain in the last four lines: the sppech is proceeded by 'then', which highlight the fact that her outburst is a consequence of all fo the abovmeentioned dreariness in her life. Tennyson substitutes 'the day', 'the night' and 'my life' with the firs-person person pronoun 'I'; this makes the statement much more personal an poignant; the relaisation that non only is her lover not coming, but he will never come, is emphasized though the use of different tenses. Finally, the poem ends as Mariana 'weeps] and, with a much more exasperated tone thatn that which ahd ended the other stanzas, pleads that '[she] were dead'. 

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Mariana: Narrative Voice and point of view

The narrative persona is an unknown third-person narrator who recounts the story of Mariana from 'Measure for Measure'. However, the narrative viewpoint does incoporate her own thoguhts and feelings. When the 'gusty shadow' of the poplar tree outside her house '[sways]' and falls 'across her bed, upon her brow', there is eprhaps an underlying allusion to the fact that she had been alert to the slight movement in the hope that it had been a sign of ehr lover returning to ehr. Similarly,  she imagines 'old faces', 'old footsteps' and 'old voices' tormenting her, reminding her of her past that can no longer be. The signs and sounds of time passing almost mock her, reminding her that her lover is not coming once again. She '[loaths]' the 'sparrow's chirrup', the 'slow clock ticking' and most of all the 'thick-moted sunbeam', sing that another day had passed and she is still alone. 

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Mariana: Narrative Voice and point of view

The narrative persona is an unknown third-person narrator who recounts the story of Mariana from 'Measure for Measure'. However, the narrative viewpoint does incoporate her own thoguhts and feelings. When the 'gusty shadow' of the poplar tree outside her house '[sways]' and falls 'across her bed, upon her brow', there is eprhaps an underlying allusion to the fact that she had been alert to the slight movement in the hope that it had been a sign of ehr lover returning to ehr. Similarly,  she imagines 'old faces', 'old footsteps' and 'old voices' tormenting her, reminding her of her past that can no longer be. The signs and sounds of time passing almost mock her, reminding her that her lover is not coming once again. She '[loaths]' the 'sparrow's chirrup', the 'slow clock ticking' and most of all the 'thick-moted sunbeam', sing that another day had passed and she is still alone. 

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Mariana: Language

  • Complicated rhyme scheme, ample use of caesura and repetition slows down the pace of the proem, contributing to the sense of monotony and ceaseless despair. 
  • Words pertaining to the semantic field of death and decay: 'blackest mss', 'thickly crusted', 'weded and worn', 'gray-eyed', 'blacken'd waters', 'marish-mosses', 'mouldering waiscot'
  • Use of harsh language and sounds, enhacned by alliteration: 'weeded and worn', 'crusted' and 'rusted', 'tickest' , 'balckest'.  Ample us of 'c' and 'k', harsh letters
  • Use of repetition and anaphora which reinforces a state that never changes:

'old faces [...]'

'old footesteps ['']'

'old voices [...]'

  • Words pertaining to the semantic field of heaviness and thickness: 'thcikest drak', 'thickly crusted', 'thick-moted sunbeam': this conveys a sense of mariana's being oppressed and almost physically weighed down by hr depression and suicidal thoughts. 
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