Field Notes of Mariana Photoshoot by Dave McHale

Millais 1851 painting Mariana exploring a woman’s dependence on marriage. scene is from a Tennyson poem which relates back to Shakespeare’s play measure for measure. He describes a woman Mariana who’s dowry has been lost at sea and abandoned by her fiancé Angelo. She is stranded lamenting her existence. Image of boredom and latitude and frustration.
She stands at her embroidery table when she has put a pin down indicating her frustration.
Extraordinary pose with her hands on her back indicating her back ache. Indicating not only her task but an indication of the agony she feels from within. She is desperate for a relationship that is being denied to her. She looks towards her nun like existence but wanting sexual fulfillment.
Gaze is towards a figure if Gabriel on a stained glass window. Gabriel should be looking at the window panel  on the left of the Virgin Mary buts instead turns towards Mariana.

Summary of poem
This poem begins with the description of an abandoned farmhouse, or grange, in which the flower-pots are covered in overgrown moss and an ornamental pear tree hangs from rusty nails on the wall

The woman’s tears fall with the dew in the evening and then fall again in the morning, before the dew has dispersed.

Within a stone’s throw from the wall lies an artificial passage for water filled with black waters and lumps of moss. A silver-green poplar tree shakes back and forth and serves as the only break in an otherwise flat, level, gray landscape.

When the moon lies low at night, the woman looks to her white window curtain, where she sees the shadow of the poplar swaying in the wind. But when the moon is very low and the winds exceptionally strong, the shadow of the poplar falls not on the curtain but on her bed and across her forehead

During the day, the doors creak on their hinges, the fly sings in the window pane, and the mouse cries out or peers from behind the lining of the wall. The farmhouse is haunted by old faces, old footsteps, and old voices.

The woman is confused and disturbed by the sounds of the sparrow chirping on the roof, the clock ticking slowly, and the wind blowing through the poplar. Most of all, she hates the early evening hour when the sun begins to set and a sunbeam lies across her bed chamber.

The first, fourth, and sixth stanzas can be grouped together, not only because they all share the exact same refrain, but also because they are the only stanzas that take place in the daytime. In themselves, each of these stanzas portrays an unending present without any sense of the passage of time or the play of light and darkness

One of the most important symbols in the poem is the poplar tree described in the fourth and fifth stanzas. On one level, the poplar can be interpreted as a sort of phallic symbol: it provides the only break in an otherwise flat and even landscape (“For leagues no other tree did mark / the level waste” [lines 43-44]); and the shadow of the poplar falls on Mariana’s bed when she is lovesick at night, suggesting her sexual hunger for the absent lover. On another level, however, the poplar is an important image from classical mythology: in his Metamorphoses, Ovid describes how Oenone, deserted by Paris, addresses the poplar on which Paris has carved his promise not to desert her. Thus the poplar has come to stand as a classic symbol of the renegade lover and his broken promise.

The refrain of the poem functions like an incantation, which contributes to the atmosphere of enchantment. The abandoned grange seems to be under a spell or curse; Mariana is locked in a state of perpetual, introverted brooding. Her consciousness paces a cell of melancholy; she can perceive the world only through her dejection. Thus, all of the poet’s descriptions of the physical world serve as primarily psychological categories; it is not the grange, but the person, who has been abandoned—so, too, has this woman’s mind been abandoned by her sense. This is an example of the “pathetic fallacy.” Coined by the nineteenth-century writer John Ruskin, this phrase refers to our tendency to attribute our emotional and psychological states to the natural world. Thus, because Mariana is so forlorn, her farmhouse, too, although obviously incapable of emotion, seems dejected, depressed; when the narrator describes her walls he is seeing not the indifferent white of the paint, but rather focuses on the dark shadows there. While Ruskin considered the excessive use of the fallacy to be the mark of an inferior poet, later poets (such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound) would use the pathetic fallacy liberally and to great effect. Arguably, Tennyson here also uses the method to create great emotional force.

Tennyson’s personal past, too, figures prominently in his work. The sudden death of his closest friend Arthur Henry Hallam when Tennyson was just 24 dealt a great emotional blow to the young poet, who spent the next ten years writing over a hundred poems dedicated to his departed friend, later collected and published as “In Memoriam” in 1850. This lengthy work describes Tennyson’s memories of the time he spent with Hallam, including their Cambridge days, when Hallam would read poetry aloud to his friends: thus Tennyson writes, “O bliss, when all in circle drawn / About him, heart and ear were fed / To hear him, as he lay and read / The Tuscan poets on the lawn!” Tennyson grapples with the tremendous grief he feels after the loss of such a dear friend, concluding famously that “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all.”

John Everett Millais’s painting Mariana is based on Tennyson’s version of Mariana and lines 9 through 12 of Tennyson’s poem were used for the catalogue description of the painting. Similarly, Millais’s version served as the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, Mariana

The depictions of Mariana by Tennyson and in later works are not the same. The difference with Millais’s depiction is not in the image of a forlorn woman or of a woman who is unwilling to live an independent life; instead, it is her sexualised depiction that is greater than found in Tennyson. His version also removes the dreariness of Tennyson’s and replaces it with a scene filled with vibrant colours. Gaskell’s depiction is of Ruth is similar to Tennyson in her weariness and wanting to die. However, she is a sexually independent figure when she rejects her lover who has returned. Tennyson’s character, on the other hand, would likely have happily accepted her lover. While Tennyson’s character cannot recognise beauty within nature, Gaskell’s character is able to turn to nature to gain spiritually in a manner similar to the Romantic poems

Millais uses the interior decoration as a means of meditating on the theme of time. He juxtaposes the Medieval stained glass windows, which came from Merton College Chapel, Oxford

Millais’s colors may also possess some religious symbolism. His protagonist’s red hair may allude to auburn tresses of Mary Magdelene, the blue of her dress could symbolize the holy bloodline. Religious symbolism permeates the rest of the painting, as well, including but not limited to the stained glass windows already discussed, the offering table in the room’s corner, and the seal in the right-hand window reading In coelo quies or In Heaven there is rest (Kate Moller ’05). This inscription suggests Mariana’s suicidal state. Though she tries to find rest from her earthly work by stretching her back and contemplating the world beyond the window in front of her, perhaps Heaven provides the only true release.

The stained-glass windows in front of her show the Annunciation, contrasting the Virgin’s fulfilment with Mariana’s frustration and longing. Millais copied the scene from the window of the Chapel of Merton College, Oxford. However, the heraldic design appears to have been his own invention. The motto ‘In coelo quies’ means ‘In Heaven there is rest’ and clearly refers to Mariana’s desire to be dead
The snowdrop symbolises ‘consolation’ and is also the birthday flower for 20January, St Agnes’ Eve, when young girls put herbs in their shoes and pray to St Agnes to send them a vision of their future husband. It may also refer indirectly to John Keats’s narrative

Objects in painting
Curtain – 12×12 Silk
Suspended Candle – Wall sconce
Censer –
2 vases with flowers – Tea cups with plates
Alter piece – Allison Sommers alterpiece
Small stained glass window 2 panels –
Dark green rectangle -Barrier
Wallpaper – Wallpaper
Snowdrop Coat of Arms – Skull and Snowdrop or Lily
Virgin Mary  window
Gabriel window
Embroidery – cloth
Pin – Pin
White table cloth – 12×12 Silk
Bench – Not Included
8 leaves
Mouse – Cat skull