Although “Mariana” is comparable to “The Lady of Shalott”, in that both poems focus on a lonesome and isolated woman, “Mariana” has much more emphasis and focus on her frustration and depression. Tennyson successfully portrays her emotions through a variety of creative uses of words: the personification of the landscape subtly shows how she has no other human contact, thus it seems that “her mind” is subconsciously making the surroundings into animate objects to show this.
The other effective, and sometimes more evocative, technique is the regular use of onomatopoeic vocabulary, which, aurally, vividly annunciates Mariana’s frustration, such as with long vowels. These, and other features, create a lucidly presented mood that supports the underlying meaning that the poem is written upon. Tennyson uses pathetic fallacy regularly to enhance the mood that is being put forward to the reader. A point that is being made is that fact that Mariana has being living in this house for quite some time, which has partially led to her frustration.
This image of frustration, stagnation and despair is reflected in her environment: “blackest moss”, “rusted nails”, “broken sheds” and “ancient”. These images effectively lead the reader to associate these characteristics with Mariana, and then to presume that she, too, is lacking vitality, and is therefore frustrated with where she is. A more subtle effect that can be found in the surroundings, is the use of more human-like personification, which makes the scenery appear to be alive. As Mariana is the only character mentioned in the poem, the reader automatically links this perception to be her thoughts.
A different perspective on a previous quotation, “broken sheds look’d sad” raises the notion that these objects are gaining strong, direct human characteristics, which in turn enforces the idea that, having developed human qualities, Mariana has no other human contact. This therefore shows how she inevitably has become depressed. “blacken’d waters slept” also provides support for this, but at the same time, draws the reader’s attention to the fact that, as Mariana’s surroundings have become stagnant and lifeless, she too must be the same.
On a more explicit level, onomatopoeia is widely used throughout “Mariana”, and it is these words that are often repeated, adding even more emphasis to the images that they portray. For example, in the refrain of each stanza (and therefore is repeated throughout), “dreary” and “aweary”, create a slow and miserable sound, by the use of assonance of the “ea” vowel sound, which naturally seems long, and drawn-out. Also, both these words are part of her direct speech, so there is added emphasis on how emotionally despondent Mariana is, as if she is moaning.
“she loathed the hour”, although not direct speed, also contains a long vowel, which the sound itself expresses how miserable and depressed she is. The description of sound, (as well as the sound that is produced when reading the words) plays a part in the portrayal of the atmosphere, which supports the frustration and depression of Mariana. For example, “the clinking latch”, being a very quiet sound, indirectly shows how silent, and therefore lifeless, the mood is, as it would need to be so in order to hear it.
Also, “the slow clock ticking”, whilst providing another example of this, thus emphasising the quiet surroundings, also gives rise to another idea: time is consequently slow for Mariana – she is bored, hence her frustration. On the other hand, a more sinister implication is that it is her life ticking away, as though she is waiting to die. Although nowadays, this may be classed as fairly cliched, it still yields the necessary meaning for the final stanza, which seems to be a final plea for her life to end.
In conclusion, this variety of levels of word use, from the almost automatic and self-perpetuating sounds effects that the words create, to the deeper significance of the personification of the landscape, creates a very expressive poem. The reason this is so effective is that, instead of just giving direct information of Mariana’s frustration and depression, Tennyson has skilfully used other ways of showing this.
Whilst these aren’t immediately apparent, the reader becomes aware of their effect, as they create a powerful image of the entire setting, in which Mariana is centric to. It is far more interesting than just being told that Mariana is depressed, instead, we are led to believe it through a creative build up of language. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Other Poets section.