In Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Mariana," who is Mariana?

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, "Mariana," the woman, Mariana, is based on the Mariana from William Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure. Like Shakespeare's Mariana, Tennyson's Mariana's lover's rejection is at the center. In Measure for Measure, Angelo rejects Mariana, and she spends much of her time thinking about him and mourning the love she could not have. Similarly, in Tennyson's poem, Mariana becomes sadder and sadder as she waits for her love to return. And just like in Shakespeare's play, her lover never arrives. In the poem, the reader sees Mariana become more and more distraught as the poem continues. At first, she cries. She sits at the window gazing out and waiting. Eventually, she wishes that she could die and end her heartbreak.

"Then said she, 'I am very dreary. He will not come,' she said; she wept, 'I am aweary, aweary. Oh God, that I were dead!'" (Tennyson ll.81-84)