“Mariana” Response by Deana C

Within the poem Mariana by Lord Alfred Tennyson there is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The hopelessness felt by Mariana is something I believe that everyone has felt at some point in their lives. Having written the poem in the third person, it helps Tennyson develop a sense of longing felt by her. The reader is able to gain a sense of what she is feeling, without believing it’s the writer who is feeling this. Even though Tennyson is trying to separate himself from his writing, he is unsuccessful because Mariana has taken on Tennyson’s view of the world. Mariana sees life and all of its worthlessness, which is how Tennyson felt for a long period in his life. Mariana’s longing for her lover leaves the reader feeling empathetic for her. The feelings of empathy created by Tennyson are important in order to drive home the utter hopelessness that she has that her love will come back. There is no movement on Mariana’s part; she is content staying at home longing for her love. Instead of Mariana taking action for herself she sulks in self-pity. Mariana has caused herself to be trapped by her own circumstances in an endless cycle of despair. This despair causes her to be unable to see the actual beauty in the decay, and helps her to remember her fears of her love never returning.

The scenery is just as miserable and depressed as she is. Mariana is causing her immediate sphere of reality to suffer alongside her. The inability for life to thrive shows how Mariana longs to die like the land around her has. Mariana should look to the only other living thing for hope, the poplar tree. It has shown despite the landscapes death it has remained sturdy, everlasting and enduring. She also blames herself for her lovers absence, having no hope that she will ever be looked upon the same for not having a man in her life. Mariana has begun to drive herself insane, “In sleep she seemed to walk forlorn” (30). Awake all day and night she paces her home anxiously. Mariana is now beginning to hear things, “Old footsteps trod the upper floors / old voices called her from without” (66-67). Eventually the only resolution from her madness is death. A repetition of her wishes of death could represent the madness she has brought upon herself. Many readers are able to relate to losing a lover and the feelings of hopelessness associated with it. When we have our hearts broken many people feel no point in living without the person we love. Love hurts and someone everyone will be hurt by someone they loved. Unlike Mariana most people don’t become agoraphobic and wait for the person who is gone. Most people would move on, and all she has done is wallow in her own pity and brought on her own madness.

I was moved by the poem and felt the longing and sorrow that she did feel waiting for her lover. I am able to relate to her because I have been in a similar situation waiting on someone who was not coming back. Unlike Mariana, I was able to move on and not live in my hopelessness as she has.

One thought on ““Mariana” Response by Deana C

  1. You make some great point in this piece but I want to further add that I do not think her as insane or to be driven mad but more so chronically depressed. Her despair in the poem tends to make readers feel just as depressed and like you suggested empathetic for her as well. As we are not given an insight on her actual though with an exempt of the refrain we cannot assume how she truly feels but it was written for us to feel something. You are right in that her actions are mirrored by her surroundings. I think the disconnection she is shown to display is a conscious choice on her part and not necessarily madness, she has made the decision to not focus on anything but her despair and hope of her lover’s return, nothing else is more important not even her wellbeing. Note too that she is a constant state of uneventfulness but the world around her never stops. however, we do, like you said can all relate to the subject of the poem and have like you said made the decision to move on with our lives Tennyson then shows that some of us do not, some hold on to hope and this hope turn hopelessness can lead to us losing ourselves.

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