The Tatyanacaste Essay Research Paper

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The Tatyana-caste Essay, Research Paper ‘…Just as the storm clouds often slay The scarcely breathing new born day.’ 1 One of the most popular of Tennyson’s poems, The Lady of Shalott relates the tragic story of an extremely lonely young lady longing for a soulmate. A poem of “technical virtuosity, inspired landscape-painting based on precise observation, and a dreamworld of artistic beauty denying the commonplace”2, “turning to beauty as a possibility of a more complete life”3, it is one of the highlights of the author’s early years. This paper shall attempt to prove my opinion that the work is very much parallel to an even more famous Russian narrative poem finished about the same year as The Lady of Shalott. I will omit discussing the poem’s popular

critical interpretation concerning “the conflict between the artist’s own sensual vision and his need to experience life directly”4 — I’ll rather concentrate on my individual, rather alienated thoughts and feelings arised during the reading, and I will not go into Arthurian considerations, either. Concerning both the subject of a yearning, introverted young lady and the bleak solution, Tennyson’s poem may be readily compared to two other, albeit larger scale, masterpieces of the early 1830’s — Balzac’s “Eugenie Grandet” and, even more notably, Pushkin’s “Onegin” –, each dealing with the same kind of pastoral, embowered, dreamy, grave and generally misunderstood girls or young women. This ‘caste’ sticks out of its rustic environment like a sore

thumb, often being regarded by their own relatives and acquaintances as hopeless misfits, spinsters or nuns to be; being highly sensitive, imaginative and deep-feeling, they find it exceptionally hard, even actually impossible, to become accepted and understood within their immediate environment made up of generally cruder and simpler sorts. Thus, these girls feel obliged to create a world of their own as a progressive act of counterbalance and self-condolence, rich with remnants of childhood fantasy, romantic works they’ve read and an air of bittersweet wistfulness. Pushkin’s memorable portrayal of Tatyana as a child may well resemble the early years of the Shalott Lady: “She was no beauty, like her sister, And had no roses on her cheeks, Which would attract admiring

looks. A wild thing, mournful and retiring, Like a doe seen in a forest clearing, In the midst of all her kith and kin She seemed like something alien. She could not manage a caress With ma or pa, or a soft touch. Herself a child, in the crowd of infants, She had no wish to play or dance, And often on the window sill All day she sat, silent and still.”5 It is presumable that the Lady is in her twenties, thus she’s the same age as Eugenie or Tatyana. Tennyson does not reveal her past, dealing only with her present continuous. As if to emphasize her isolation from all human affairs, the reader is made conscious of the constant flow of life around the island of Shalott. The Lady’s peaceful singing before the occurrence with Lancelot is just like Tatyana’s pastoral life

before the appearance of Onegin: innocent, harmless, bittersweet, secretive and longing. The reader gets the impression that the Lady has been singing this song for a long time now. “His [Tennyson's] words project colorful, living reality constantly like the mirror of the Lady in the tower”6. We may draw a parallel between the shadow of the real, material world reflected in the Lady’s magic mirror, and Tatyana’s vivid fantasizing about being the heroines of all the romantic pieces she reads. Both of them view life through their own peculiar, distanced way that stands between them and life itself; and they don’t feel like giving their ways up, being locked into a durable pattern. “She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay To look down on Camelot.”