Study Guide

Mariana What's Up With the Title?

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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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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