Metrical Patterns In Mariana By Tennyson

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The stanza of “Mariana” discussed in this analysis is almost entirely consistent regarding its metrical patterns. This uniformity is a conscious stylistic decision on Tennyson’s part as his sudden departure from such regularity not only challenges the audience’s expectations, but physically shapes the way in which the audience reads the words on the page. The first seven lines of the stanza are written in iambic tetrameter, this number of lines enough to create a foundation for expectation from the audience; however, the steadiness of this regularity is disrupted by Tennyson’s sudden shift to pentameter in the eighth line. The disturbance of form only progresses as Mariana begins to speak, the later lines of the stanza descending to trimeter as she cries that she is “aweary, aweary,” wishing that she were dead. The melodic nature of the word “aweary” not only actively resists an iambic reading, but ultimately lends itself more to an amphibrachic one. While a disyllabic reading of the line may still be possible, it disrupts the vague semblance of fluidity that remains in this structural estrangement from iambic tetrameter. Not only that, but reading “aweary” as an amphibrach (aided by the line’s excessive use of sonorant alliteration) instills a cyclical sense of lethargy and fatigue that is reflected by the coming and going of days, something which is actively smothering Mariana’s resolve and her will to live. Mariana’s daily realization as the sun “[slopes] toward his

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