How does Tennyson convey loss of love in the poem "Mariana"?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Mariana in the Moated Grange by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is based on William Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure". Mariana has been jilted by Angelo because her dowry was lost at sea. She retires to an isolated house surrounded by a moat to mourn. One of the problems of the play is why, given the sheer unpleasantness of Angelo, any woman wouldn't merely think, in the circumstances, "good riddance to bad rubbish".

Tennyson portrays her unhappiness by third person limited narration taking the viewpoint of Mariana. The technique he uses is sometimes known as the "pathetic fallacy" in which we see the external world reflecting her unhappy mood. As the descriptions becomes increasingly unusual, we realize that they reflect not accurate perception but rather her extreme misery, e.g.


The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
    Behind the mouldering wainscot shrieked,


The constant echo of the refrain also emphasizes her misery.