Study Guide

Mariana What's Up With the Title?

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

What's Up With the Title?

The title is an allusion to the character Mariana from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Ready for a speedy summary?

Here we go: Mariana is a young lady who has been recently jilted by her fiancé. She gets dumped when her father's dowry dries up, actually. Her (ex-) boyfriend = not a nice guy. To recover from her heartbreak, she holes up in a farmhouse that is surrounded by a moat—just like a princess from a fairytale.

Just one problem: he never comes. Pretty much that's what happens in the poem, too—and not much else, if you think about it. Tennyson isn't re-writing Mariana's story, though, or adding a happy (or sad) ending. He's just lingering with her, in the farmhouse, for a little, and letting us see what it's like to live with despair and sorrow. Um, thanks?

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