The Tatyanacaste Essay Research Paper — страница 2

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The mysterious whisper might be none else than her very own, girlish fear of life that prohibits her from opening up to unbridled passion, thus becoming a Woman; a kind of self-delusion not at all unfamiliar to the mental world of her ’soulsister’ Tatyana; as she gives it away in her letter to Onegin: “Why did you come to visit us? In this forgotten rural home Your face I never would have known, Nor known this bitter suffering.”7 It is the curse of her own passionate love, banging, from within, on the sealed gates of a secluded, silent life — the curse of inner conflict between the old, harmless, innocent, girlish, grayish, habitual lifestyle, and the new one: just the one she has been secretly yearning for years, at least ever since she stepped into early adolescence.

“My life till now was but a pledge, Of meeting with you, a forward image; You were sent by Heaven of that I’m sure, To the grave itself you are my saviour…”8 This correlates the equally crucial lines: “‘I am half sick of shadows’, said The Lady of Shalott.” “She is just becoming aware of the inadequacy of her life as she contemplates the young lovers she sees in the mirror.”9 Enter Lancelot, who is, of course, the Lady’s unwitting ‘Onegin’; her behavior displayed at this point much resembles that of Tatyana upon realising that she’s in love with the man she only saw once. This behavior involves an almost apocalyptic sense of novelty and a sudden disdain of all that is worn and habitual (note how the Lady tosses away her web and the mirror gets

cracked). These male figures in both poems are the symbols of personality and fulfillment in the vast scene of the world’s growth and beauty; these men seem to the ladies to provide an even more specific promise: the achievement of individual identity. Both the Lady and Tatyana display a most impersonal attitude to their surroundings, as they always did; when their ‘knights’ finally enter their life, they become extremely personal all of a sudden. Lancelot is the first person to be named in the poem, and he seems to guarantee the validity of names and their ability to give permanence and meaning to the self. “‘The curse is come upon me’, cried The Lady of Shalott.” The same turning point in Onegin: “Ah, nanny, nanny, my heart is breaking, I’m sick, my dearest

nanny, dearest, I want to cry, I want to sob!..” The Lady proceeds to embark on a boat ride “like some bold seer in a trance” to reach Lancelot; she scribbles her name on the prow of the boat to claim the promise of personality Lancelot had, in her mind, held out for her. This is in concert with Tatyana’s trancelike, but more realistic, scribbling of her letter that eventually leads to her devastating, invalidating, face-to-face confrontation with Onegin, who doesn’t really want to do anything with her. The final stanza of the Tennyson poem also depicts a kind of face-to-face situation that corresponds with the aforementioned scene in Onegin: unwitting Lancelot gazes intently at the now dead Lady, wishing her a blissful afterlife, remarking “she has a lovely face”.

This remark is absurdly inadequate, and again, extremely invalidating, to the emotionally saturated tragedy of the Lady. According to E.A.Poe, “the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world”.10 The degree of impact of the male figures on the lives of their respective ‘victims’ seems to differ considerably at first. The actual impact is all but the same in significance: the Lady dies as a result of her thoughtless, hasty flight in the boat, and as for Tatyana, well, she doesn’t pass away physically: “Indeed, far worse, with cheerless desire Wretched Tatyana is on fire, And sleep deserts her bed completely. Health, life’s colour and its sweetness, Her smile and girlish serene calm Quite disappeared, as empty sound, And fair

Tatyana’s youth then faded; Just as the storm clouds often slay The scarcely breathing new born day.” Tennyson physically ‘kills off’ his protagonist, putting an inevitable end to the story, while Pushkin, basically a realist writer, keeps her alive in order to be able to draw a verisimilar circle encompassing many years. At the end of his narrative poem, 32-year-old Pushkin, who was a bonvivant, an early dandy who knew womanfolk exceptionally well, admits Tatyana as his “true ideal”11 of woman; with all his experience and disillusion, he wishes for himself a spouse that would be chaste, loyal, serious and not too sociable. As for 22-year-old Tennyson, he seems to condemn Pushkin’s ideal spouse for being lifeless and joyless. His Lady, however, perfectly embodies