Tennyson Close Analysis

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English Close Reading Analysis

The poem Mariana by Alfred, Lord Tennyson was published in 1830 and is the text I have chosen to do closely analyze. The subject matter of the poem was taken from one of Shakespeare’s plays titled “Measure for Measure”, and the line: “Mariana in the moated grange,” gave Tennyson the inspiration to write of a young woman waiting for her lover. The two texts share a common theme of abandonment, as in Shakespeare’s play the young woman is also diligently awaiting the return of her lover Angelo after his desertion upon discovering her loss of dowry. Similarly to Shakespeare’s text, Marianna lacks action or any narrative movement, the entire poem serving as an extended depiction of the melancholy isolation
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Through close analysis there are signs of hope Mariana instills in us for both her fate and the return of her lover. In the first stanza on line 6, it is described that ‘unlifted was the clinking latch’ emphasizing her hope for his return, and in the second stanza on line 8, when she ‘glanced athwart the glooming flats,’ although the use of ‘glooming’ is a morbid foreshadowing, Mariana watches her surroundings as if she is waiting for a soldier to return from the battlefield and into her open arms. But as Mariana deteriorates and hope fails her, so does the language in the poem. In the sixth stanza between lines 6 and 8, Mariana descends into madness as her house becomes haunted by ‘old faces, glimmer’d thro’ the doors, /old footsteps, trod the upper floors, /old voices call’d her from without.’ The use of past tense with ‘glimmer’d’ and ‘call’d’ signifies that Marianna is still living in the past, as her libido flows backwards. She remembers happier times because she is haunted, and the psychological reversions as well as physical deterioration move in parallel order, creating overwhelming sense of degeneration and loss. In the last stanza, ‘the sparrow’s chirrup on the roof, /the slow clock ticking,’ this first and second line stood out. ‘The sparrow’ is symbolic because it is a sign of impending death, in Christian symbolism the sparrow was seen as offering
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