The titular character of "Mariana" doesn't have many friends… well, besides nature that is. Even then, she and the natural world aren't exactly besties. Mariana is a woman who has been jilted and abandoned, so she lives in a farmhouse far secluded from the rest of the world. She can't, however, escape nature, and Tennyson uses that to his advantage as he sets the appropriate mood. Mariana's moods are reflected in the overgrown, dreary, unpleasant landscape that unfolds around her. Even the birds take their cues from her mood. Feeling chipper? Too bad—prepare for some natural gloom.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
How do moss and rust reflect Mariana's mood? Why do they open the poem?
Where do animals fit into the poem? Are they signaling anything?
Is Tennyson saying that our moods can influence nature, or just the way we see nature? Why do you think so?
Chew on This
Tennyson is using nature in the poem to clue us into Mariana's mindset.
If the elements of nature are dependent on Mariana's moods, then they must not always be as gloomy as they are described in the poem.