The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mariana by Alfred Tennyson

Wednesday 18th January- Mr Sadrove

At the beginning of the class, we looked at what at a photograph of the Spice Girls and think if it represented "girl power". Discussing with the class, a few ideas came up was about how women were made subordinate in a patriarchal society and culture. The point of talking about girl power was to compare it to a woman named Mariana and see if she represents girl power by fighting back to whatever has happened to her.

Secondly, we looked at only the first two lines of the poem and talk about how the setting is used

With blackest moss the flower- plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:

We discussed about how the word "blackest" gives off a negative and dark imagery, perhaps creating the ambience of the poem through the opening. A lot of ideas that arose were the sense of things decaying and deteriorating. Due to "moss" growing only after something or some place has been abandoned for a long time, this could maybe be a metaphor for the Mariana's life and how she too has be abandoned by someone. The word "crusted" connotes for lack of life and gives off an imagery of stasis. Moving on the aspects of narrative, these constant links to settings in the opening of the poem, insinuates it's importance just like in "The Lady of Shalott", where if Tennyson didn't write about the setting, the vital contrast between the two places could not be shown.

Thirdly, we read an extract about 'The Sense of Place' and how it was a quite late development in the history of poems. Mikhail Bakhtin had declared about how in early romance novels in the mid 1800's, the setting was "interchangeable backcloths for the plot" of the poem. This tells us how in the olden times, the setting wasn't particularly important and the poets made no attempt on making the readers "see" the surroundings of the character(s). In contrast, a modern poem, Mariana, Tennyson uses hyperbolic lexical choice creating a mental landscape for the readers to really see the surroundings. Moving away from the tunnel vision and explore the setting in order to create a lifeless atmosphere to echo the character's passive state. The purpose of setting is vital as it creates a sensory impact on the character, therefore the reader. It is said to open "people's eyes to the sublime beauty of landscape".

Lastly, we read the poem and analysing different aspects of narrative, such as; setting, title, epigraph, ring composition and the focalised narration (third person limited narration) of the first stanza.
A new structural term that we learnt in this lesson was the "ring composition". It is a structural device where a narrative is organised by symmetrically repeated material, which can be achieved by a word, image, rhyme e.t.c, or just in simple words its where the poem starts and ends at the same place. Also, just to clarify, a pathetic fallacy is where a person's feeling is used to inanimate objects or surroundings. For example; "the lonely moated grange" in this poem.

Historical context:
Mariana, who is originally from a Shakespearean play called "Measure for Measure". The protagonist lives outside Venetian society in a secluded "moated grange". She is betrothed to Angelo, who broke off their engagement and throughout the poem she seems to be waiting for him to return, whom unfortunately never does.

Again, similar to The Lady of Shalott, the poem is written in trochaic tetrameter containing four trochaic foot and eight tetrameters. The stanzas are divided into three quatrains (four lines) with the rhyming scheme of A B A B C D D C E F E F. The rhyming couplets are trapped in the middle of the poem by the quatrains showing her place geographically as she is in the centre, surrounded by a moat which is similar to The Lady of Shalott, who is detached from the rest of the world by being placed in an island. Here, we receive a sense of isolation and abandonment both the characters. However, the significant difference is that the Lady does acts upon the curse and out of her comfort zone, representing "girl power". In contrast to Mariana, who pities herself and hopes to die.
There is a repetition of the last quatrain in every stanza, suggesting the lack of movement of the character, mentally and physically.

The final point I'd like to mention is that in the first stanza, the objects are described to be not fulfilling their potential and doing the exact opposite of what they're supposed to be doing. This can be seen as the "nails" are rusty and falling off, instead of holding something in place. The sheds are "broken" and looks "sad and strange", which is a form of pathetic fallacy.

So, this is all what we did this lesson, I hope to have covered all the aspects of narrative and new terms we learnt that lesson. If there is any confusion or anything I have missed out on, feel feel to ask me or comment on the blog.

Lisa (:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. good and detailed blog well done

  3. This was a really informative and detailed blog, well done.

  4. Really good blog, covers the lesson in full detail : )

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