Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woman Trapped

A theme that I picked up on in the reading of both Mariana and the Lady of Shallot is this concept of women being trapped by their despair over a failed love or love gone awry. This gives a keen insight into the way men of Tennyson's time saw women and their dependence on men for fulfillment and romance. I think it also suggests something about the arrogance of men in terms of nature as well. Both poems use a lot of natural imagery and I think suggest a similar kind of dependence of nature on the power and whim of man. Considering the time of empire that Tennyson writes in and his other works (Light Brigade) this kind of imperialistic impulse makes a lot of sense.

1 comment:

  1. To add to this insight, this is the moment of scientific advances that made man's control over the natural world seem possible. For example, in 1802, the Humphry Davy claimed that the chemist "is to a certain extent ruler of all the elements that surround him, and he is capable of using not only common matter according to his will and inclinations, but likewise of subjecting to his purposes the ethereal principles of heat and light." This view, however, was challenged by new geological theories and Darwin;s evolutionary paradigm, which made human will and agency insignificant in the vast expanse of geological time and space. Perhaps "Mariana" is reflecting this turn away from a sense of man's control over nature to his ultimate subjection to the immensity of time embedded in nature.