Pictures by J.W. Waterhouse


Mariana in the South

Date: circa 1897
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 114 x 74 cm

The character Mariana in William Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure' is the jilted lover of Angelo, the acting governor of Vienna. Angelo abuses the powers of government invested in him by the duke, by offering to pardon Isabella's brother, Claudio, who has been sentenced to death for seduction, if she will sacrifice her honour to him. The duke, disguised as a friar, learns of Angelo's terrible conduct and contrives Claudio's escape. The ruse is for Isabella to consent to attend Angelo's house at midnight, but to send Mariana in her place, thereby foiling Angelo's designs whilst liberating Claudio. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, made Mariana the subject of two poems, 'Mariana' and its sequel 'Mariana in the South', dwelling on her abject despair as she waits in the lonely moated grange for her lover to return, while her surroundings decay around her. Her tears fall night and morning and she cannot draw pleasure from anything in heaven or on earth. Tormented by haunting voices from her past, she is overcome by weariness and yearns for death.