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Compare and Contrast Tithonus and Ulysses.

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast Tithonus and Ulysses Alex Williamson 14th February 2001 Tithonus and Ulysses were written by Alfred Lord Tennyson; a poet famous for his representation of Victorianism in his poetry, recognised by the fact that Queen Victoria appointed him as the poet laureate. He wrote Tithonus in 1860 and Ulysses in 1842. Both poems display similar grammatical structure; both are dramatic monologues, that is to say that both are written in the first person with the subject of the poems narrating, a style popular in Victorian poetry as it is a form of the Victorian's favourite genre of writing; the novel; both concern Greco-Roman mythology and the extensions thereof produced in the Middle Ages: there is no record of Ulysses either continuing or wishing to continue his travels after his arrival from Troy, it is generally accepted that this concept was later added to the myth by Dante. Both poems begin in similar fashion; Tithonus begins with the imagery of death and decay; 'The woods decay, the woods decay and fall' due mainly to the fact that he has seen almost everything die away apart from himself, furthermore Ulysses soon depicts ...read more.

Middle

know not me' and 'I am become a name'. Ulysses is in fact so egocentric that he cannot exist without adulation and action: 'I cannot rest from travel' and 'for always roaming with a hungry heart'. Ulysses' boredom is the greatest factor in his desire to travel. He desperately wants to free himself from the shackles of responsibility: 'to whom I leave this sceptre' and 'tis not to late to seek a newer world', the ironic fact of his childish dereliction of his responsibilities is the fact that he places his own child, Telemachus, in charge of what he sees as mundane, monotonous tasks: 'of common duties' and 'by slow prudence to make mild'. He continues his irony by stating 'well-loved of me' before announcing that he is to administer a task that Ulysses sees as to dreary for himself. He sees responsibility as a fetter, restraining his ability to continue his extravagancies and his urge to travel: 'I will drink life to the lees', this statement directly contrasts with Tithonus' wish to die, whereas Ulysses wants to continue in his impossible journey to find happiness as a nomad, shown by Tennyson to be unobtainable: 'to follow knowledge like a sinking star' and 'beyond the utmost bound of human thought'. ...read more.

Conclusion

the contrast between two extremes is marked as dawn pulses with vitality, life and vigour whereas Tithonus simply wants to die and rest eternally. Ulysses wants the reverse, he wishes to cast off mortality and death and to continue to travel, he makes it clear he feels it is never too late to stop broadening oneself: 'the long day wanes' (A metaphor for death based on the ancient Greek riddle of man's progress through life in a day). However it becomes apparent he doesn't know exactly what he wants to do: 'to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield'; he simply wants to abandon responsibility and experience excitement and adventure before he succumbs to death. Both of these poems exhibit similar characteristics in terms of both structure and narrative style; however the contrast between the two narrators could not be more marked; one, Ulysses, exhibits the desire to abandon all that makes him normal, he seeks fame, fortune, adulation and an escape from mortality and responsibility. Tithonus seeks the antithesis to Ulysses; he wants to abandon all that make him unconventional; his lack of human contact and above all; his immortality. ...read more.

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An excellent essay which compares the two poems in detail using a wide range of quotes to support comments. Well written and perceptive comments using a wide vocabulary. This essay shows a mature understanding of both poems.
Some editing is required as some sentence structures are very long and meaning can be lost at times.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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