Lord Tennyson was born in 1809 in Lincolnshire. In 1850 after being educated at Cambridge University he became Poet Laureate, this was the title given by the monarch at the time to the poet who wrote poems celebrating special and important public occasions. He had a life long fear of mental illness, as his family was known to have a hereditary genetic disorder. Many of his family (his brother and his father included) had this disorder and were put in mental homes. He later on died in 1892.
Rossetti was born in 1830 she was a deeply religious woman, who was only recognised through her poetry. It would be fair for one to say that her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, rose to fame at a much higher level then Christina. Her brother rose to fame through his artistic nature. They were both members of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement; this group was focused on the progression of great works of poetry and painting. She died, due to cancer at the age of 64 in 1894.
I have been given the assignment to scrutinise the themes of “Love & Loss” in the poems “The Lady of Shallot” written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the sonnet “Remember” by Christina Rossetti. The two poems were written in the Victorian era.
The two poems, which I have been asked to analyse, were written in the Victorian era between the years of 1837 – 1901, at which time Queen Victoria was the monarch, the Victorian era produced many great and somewhat influential writers such as the two I am studying. In this period England went through a few major changes, the population of Britain doubled which in turn caused large cities to be developed, due to the increase in population. Some people consequently had to live cramped and filthy lifestyle.
As a result of the coming of the Industrial Revolution millions of people left their agricultural jobs to move to the city where they lived in the slums to find any work, which a factory had to offer. The peasants were used as cheap labour most of them were overworked and also had a lack of education. As the writers were not heavily effected by the industrial revolution they were able to live much more comfortable lives in comparison with the peasants.
Throughout this era Britain’s economy began to strengthen as the years went on this was influenced by the Industrial Revolution, there was also another reason for the Strengthening economy, which was Britain had began invading other countries for their wealth and natural resources, due to this the trade industry was expanding rapidly.
Although there were many reasons to call the Victorian era a great period, one must learn the darker side to the Victorian era which had began to emerge. Prostitution, begging, child exploitation and drunkenness were extremely common, and there was a vast amount of desperate and poor people. Women who lived their lives at the beginning of the Victorian period were enormously restricted. Women were not allowed to own money, their lives could be seen as shallow and dull; they were treated as possessions of their husbands. There were only a few respectable jobs, which were paid poorly, so women often diverted towards prostitution as a source of income.
The era although had it’s dark side has a hand in producing some of the most greatest writers Britain had seen including George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte and Emily Brontï¿½, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.
It seems that the two poems have both been written using the theme of death; one can say this is because death was a major issue in the Victorian time. Change, decay, and growth were also important factors, which all linked in with the theme of death, one may say that the Victorians were fascinated by such topics.
The sonnet ‘Remember’ is about a lady who seems to be at her dieing stages and is talking to a person and telling them how she would like to be remembered, when she departs from the world. Although one may say that this sonnet has a dual interpretation, the other being that the lady is leaving.
“Remember me when I am gone away, gone far away into the silent land”
I feel that this quote above summarises the meaning and theme of the poem Remember.
The poem Lady of Shallot is about a lady who is entrapped in a castle due to a curse. One may conclude that Tennyson’s fear of mental illness could be portrayed through the curse, which holds her in the tower.
“A curse is on her if she stay… To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,”
She spends her time weaving and watching the people go by. The poem proceeds to describe the castle and it’s surroundings. Also the poem describes how she falls in love with the knight Lancelot. Then how she escapes the castle only to journey to her death where she finally meets Sir Lancelot.
The two poems have the overall theme of “love and loss” these are the two themes I intend to analyse. Rossetti writes about how someone wants to be remembered when they are gone away one may explain this as if someone is about to die, the “gone away” portrays the theme of loss, although the theme of loss is a major influence on the poem Rossetti manages to include the theme of love, one can conclude this because of the line;
“You tell me of our future that you planned”
This seems as if the lady is talking to her partner who had planned to be with her throughout her life. One may say there is a form of resentment in the quote. The theme of love is shown in the poem because the above quote portrays how much somebody loves his or her partner and wants to be remembered, this may be because she is leaving him or departing from the world.
Tennyson also manages to depict the themes of love and loss through his poem “The Lady of Shallot”, he also emphasise a sense of loneliness with the lady of Shallot. This is because she is cursed to stay in the tower.
“I am half sick of shadows”
She is longing to have someone by her side all she sees are shadows one could say that she wants these shadows to enter her life and become reality. As the poem goes on Tennyson manages to concentrate the poem onto the themes of love at the moment she sees Sir Lancelot. She begins to feel so isolated and deeply in love with this knight she is willing to sacrifice her life just to meet him, this is the theme of loss taking place. She eventually reaches her love but dies in the process.
Each poem has it’s own individual rhyme pattern. As the sonnet ‘Remember’ consists of fourteen lines, the rhyme pattern is as follows, A-B-B-A-A-B-B-A-C-D-D-E-C-E. As you can see occasionally rhyming couplets have been used to give a rhythm to the poem.
The Lady of Shallot a narrative poem, the poem consists of 180 lines which and is parted into nineteen separate stanzas/verses which are split into 4 parts, each having an identical rhyme pattern and a total of nine lines. A-A-A-A-B-C-C-C-B. Almost the entire poem has been composed in iambic tetrameter, although the last line of each stanza is written in iambic trimester.
The rhyme pattern keeps a rhythm going through out every verse/stanza. The verse’s all have the words Camelot and Shallot at point B of each verse; the only verse to differ this pattern is the 12th verse in which the word Lancelot is used instead of Shallot, the writer has used this to emphasise the importance of Sir Lancelot within the Lady’s life. This repetitiveness attempts to depict the monotony of the type of life she leads, but the point at which Lancelot arrives in the poem symbolises the end of her depressed and repetitive life.
The language is both poems have a similar style although one may feel that The Lady of Shallot is much more descriptive.
“His coal black curls as on he rode”
At this point the poem is describing Sir Lancelot who is the person, which the Lady has fallen in love with. This language of quote and the rest of the description manage to portray powerful imagery, which compliments Sir Lancelot through the eyes of the Lady. The poem then proceeds onto the details on the way he looks.
“His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d”
Interpretations of the Lady and Lancelot within the poem fluctuate considerably, in the form of colour. The Lady’s life is very dull, this is conveyed by the colours used to describe her world. Her world is a land of shadows, grey dim and dismal, as the lady is never described directly it helps emphasise the vague and dim atmosphere which she lives in. although in contrast Lancelot is described with bright and colourful imagery of light, he is also compared with a meteor which is surrounded by blazing light, which rides through the “purple night”, one can say that it is this contrast between the two which attracts the lady, this could be based on the modern concept of “opposites attract”.
Both poems have managed to use various writing techniques one that shows up in particular is personification, this is where an inanimate thing is given a human characteristic.
“Gone far away into the silent land” – Remember
“Some bearded meteor, trailing light” – The Lady of Shallot
The two above quotes are examples of personification for either poem, there are also other mechanisms used such as alliterations and irony,
“From his blazon’d baldric slung” – The Lady of Shallot
There is only one example of irony, which can be found at the end of The Lady of Shallot.
“He said, ‘She has a lovely face”
This is an ironic ending because throughout the play she was in love with Sir Lancelot but her love was not recognised, as she was not known, until when she died Lancelot complemented her.
One can say the poem is mysterious because you never find out how or why the lady of Shallot was cursed. It also could be said that Sir Lancelot was partially responsible for her death as he indirectly tempted her to try and free herself from the castle.
In conclusion to my assignment I feel that the themes of love and loss are portrayed very well in the two poems I have analysed. The writers have used evocative language and imagery to do so. One may feel that the love and loss factors have much contemporary relevance, many writers still use these types of themes within their works, love and loss are also greatly influential topics in the film industry.
Movies, which have incorporated these themes, include “Spider Man”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Titanic” also many animated movies such as “The Lion King” involve these themes. In modern day many action movies have managed to invoke the theme of death (in the form of revenge) and use it to enhance the plots of the movies. The themes of “Love and Loss” are greatly influential within our lives as well and will be for the time to come.