Mariana as A Study of The Mood of Despair - Examine

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      Mariana is the noblest example in all of inner surface painting of Tennyson. In Mariana we do not have so much of a story as the evocation of a mood and atmosphere. Thus we have no character building or any story to indicate why Mariana is lonely or why her lover does not come. The images of landscape and music of the words rather than the meaning of words evoke an elegiac mood, a dreamy, half-supernatural atmosphere. I this poem, Tennyson has done something new and fresh; he has not only enriched English literature but also extended its possibilities. Music, melancholy, and landscape, all are blended and fored to bring out the despair and hopelessness of Mariana. Even the sounds in the poem are conducive to the tension and gloom in the atmosphere. The sparrow's chirrup and the mouse's squeak-ordinary in themselves-contribute to the nervous tension in the poem. The music of the poem works towards reflecting Mariana's hopelessness and gloom. Her suffering and weariness find only partial expression in the four-line refrain with its flaccid monotony of diction and rhythm and its dying falls 'dreary' and 'aweary' intensify the impressions of unchanging enervation of spirit, its dulling, hypnotic repetition being varied only in the final stanza so that the lyric may end in a whimper of futility. The deviations from taut and nervous rhythms are meaningful, as in the fifth, stanza where sudden movement is stressed by the poem's one quickly moving line-

And the shrill winds were up and away...

Mariana is the noblest example in all of inner surface painting of Tennyson. In Mariana we do not have so much of a story as the evocation of a mood and atmosphere. Thus we have no character building or any story to indicate why Mariana is lonely or why her lover does not come. The images of landscape and music of the words rather than the meaning of words evoke an elegiac mood, a dreamy, half-supernatural atmosphere. I this poem, Tennyson has done something new and fresh; he has not only enriched English literature but also extended its possibilities. Music, melancholy, and landscape, all are blended and fored to bring out the despair and hopelessness of Mariana.
Mariana

      Mariana is a services of pictures of the grange, the woman, and the country around the grange, making up a powerful evocation of the sadness of the house and of the woman who lives in it. The slight variations in the refrain serve to emphasise the weary monotony, whose force is felt in the marked variation in the last line: "Oh God, that I
were dead. In the first stanza we approach the grange as observers, noting details of its desolate state. What is most important, perhaps, is the mingling of mood and object. The device of the formal refrain was an old one but the prolonged objectification in house and landscape of the woman s desolation was a new note in English poetry.

      The interaction and transaction between the inner and outer existence shows great characteristics of Tennyson's manner. It is purely different from Wordsworth's, who is usually content to paint the background of his figures by a few strokes. This rare power of giving atmosphere to a poem by suggesting the correspondence and interaction between the mind and its surroundings, between the situation and the subjective feelings come out even more forcibly in Mariana in the South, where we have the troubled sleeping exhaustion produced by intense heart, with the dream of cool breezes and running brooks, and the waking to consciousness of bare desolation. Always when the verse comes to life with marked feeling and individuality it is at this evocation of landscape whose grey, lonely beauty matches a strange, hollow yearning in the human being. On his view, John Pettigrew points out, "I know of no earlier English poem relying so heavily on setting to reveal, or rather to create, a character's soul. In its indirect capturing of spiritual plight through imagery of physical blight, the poem's basic technique is precisely that of, say, the opening of Prufrock and The Fire Sermon; and it is this, more than the meters, which Mr. Eliot distinguished, that is wholly new."

      Images in Mariana are steeped in gloom and desolation - the broken sheds appear 'sad and strange', thickest dark covers the sky, a cry of nocturnal bird hints a sense of premonition. The use of imagery reminds us of Eliot's dictum of objective correlative. According to which a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events exudes a particular emotion that the poet intends to evoke. Tennyson deftly handled the imagery that emits a sense of gloom and despair.

      Mariana is a lovelorn maiden living in a moated grange, a building in reins. The flower beds are covered with black moss. Everything is desolate and worn. Mariana complains about her loneliness and darkness of life. She weeps all the time-morning, evening and night. She is weary about life because her lover does not come back to her. At a stone's throw from the wall is a moss-covered sluice. Nearby is a poplar tree, shrine-green with twisted bark and is always shaking. For miles and miles there is the waste land all around. When the moon is low and the shrill winds blow, Mariana sees the shadow of the popular of the window curtain swaying about in the wind. On still nights, the shadow falls on her bed and across her forehead. All day within the sleepy house, the doors produce a creaking sound as they turn upon their hinges. The blue fly hums against the glass window panes. The mouse in the wall panelling produces squeaky sounds. It seems to Mariana as if old faces peeped through the doors, that old footsteps walked along the upper floors, and that old voices spoke to her from outside. Mariana's mind is confused with the sounds of a chirping sparrow on the roof, the ticking of the slow clock and the soft rustle of the poplar as the wind blows against its branches. Mariana hales these sounds but more than anything else, she hates the hour when the sun is going to set in the western sky. All the time Mariana complains about her lover's absence and the dreariness of her life without him and wishes she could dies.

      Music in the poem accentuates Mariana's terrible hopelessness and despair. The poem vaguely suggests, though not definitely tells, Mariana's sleeplessness and the shedding of her tears, her lover's betrayal, Tennyson with restraint deals with this over-whelming, awesome despair. In order to express the pregnancy of her mental state, Tennyson adopts a method of precision to indicate that even in the face of threatening despair, words have lost its power. It is only by the use of refrain he brings out her mental agony.

      In this poem, we see how a few words can take hold of and enchant the fancy until of conjures up images of the landscape, the mournful aspect of a decaying house in a level was, the chill air of grey dawn, the varying moods of despondency that follow the alternations of run and shadow of light and darkness, as they pass before a solitary watcher who looks vainly for someone who never comes.

      "I am aweary", the refrain is certainly explicit enough, but otherwise the expression is oblique. Incidental details come to have the representative force of symbols only in a very unobtrusive, unforced way. According to J.B. Steane, the erotic associations here are lightly, subtly handled, both pointed and poignant in their restraint. For the gnarled bark suggests a maleness the woman will never embrace, the in substantiality of shadows is all that falls upon her bed: and the sterility of wind moving the branches of a tree is all the reality that love can ever have as it moves in the trusted desires of her mind. There is a poplar tree, which has a significant impression in the poem, 'all silver-green with gnarled bark', growing alone on the level waste. It is mentioned again in the next verse -

But when the moon was very low,
And wild winds bound within their cell,
The shadow of the poplar fell
Upon her bed, across her brow. 

      And again in the last verse:

....The sound
which to the wooing mind aloof
The poplar made.

      The poem constantly moves inward to what we call the heart: through the spacious expanse of field, road and sky it penetrates further and further till it reaches the innermost nerve, microscopic seat of the emotions, the centre of a power which for the individual can transform the whole exterior world. For Mariana, the beauty around her is poisoned by what is within her.

      The central focus of the poem lies in the desolate landscape but not in the character Marina. The aura of the poem endows with grave mood of despair. The music of the words added to bleak landscape echoes the pathos in the poem. There is not a proper storyline or a racy chain of events, but an eerie, gloomy atmosphere that encompasses Marina underlining Tennyson's uniqueness.

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