Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel

Subject Headings

Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, Baron, 1809-1892 -- Criticism and interpretation, English poetry -- 19th century -- History and criticism, Melancholy in literature, Rhetoric, Renaissance, Tennyson, melancholy, Victorian melancholy, black blood, imagination, imagery, melancholic rhetoric, Mariana in the Moated Grange, Mariana in the South, The Lady of Shalott, externalization of imagination, Victorian regulation and unfettered imagination


Critics of Tennyson view his melancholy poetics as a self-evident manifestation. However, not until recently have scholars examined melancholy as a rhetorical structure in Tennyson's poetry. To address this particular gap in scholarly research, this thesis examines the use of black, similar images, and descriptive language in Tennyson's "Mariana and the Moated Grange," "Mariana in the South," and "The Lady of Shalott." From a close reading of the text and a comparative analysis of Tennyson's poetry, common connections between the four poems become clear. These connections emerge through the contextual evidence for melancholy existing in the imagery, diction, and syntax of Tennyson's writings. Tennyson's use of colors and images creates not only an atmosphere reflective of melancholia, but also manifests the melancholy effect of the restrictive Victorian gaze on the freer imaginary elements of the Romantics. This research provides a framework for identifying the traits of Tennyson's melancholic rhetoric found throughout his poetry. Therefore, this framework offers a starting point for further study of the rhetorical and stylistic development of melancholy in Tennyson's poetry. Additionally, by juxtaposing the obvious melancholic themes in the two Mariana poems with "The Lady of Shalott," one can interpret this poem as more than a representation of the isolated poet. Thus "The Lady of Shalott," when examined in tandem with The "Mariana" poems, affords the necessary link between the imagination and melancholy. Hence, a close examination of "The Lady of Shalott" illuminates the melancholy which overshadows the unbridled imagination