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AS and A Level: Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Common errors when writing about Tennyson's poems

  1. 1 Failing to distinguish between titles and characters – It can lead to confusion if you do not distinguish between ‘Mariana’ or ‘Ulysses’ (the poems) and Mariana or Ulysses (the characters). Quotation marks or italics are essential to indicate titles of poems.
  2. 2 Failure to make proper use of quotations – Quotations from the poems should always be followed by an analysis of their language and effects. It is not enough just to quote and pass on.
  3. 3 Sweeping generalisations about the Victorian era – Avoid statements like ‘the Victorians believed that…’ It is most unlikely that they all did.
  4. 4 The poet’s name – The poet should be referred to as Tennyson, not Lord Tennyson. He did not become a baronet until very late in life.
  5. 5 Poor spelling – Tennyson’s poems contain characters with unfamiliar names, such as Ulysses and Tithonis. Make sure you spell them correctly.

Tennyson is noted for the variety of his verse forms. Check the definitions of each of the following, and make sure you always try to link form with meaning in a poem.

  1. 1 Blank verse.
  2. 2 Dramatic monologue.
  3. 3 Elegy.
  4. 4 Lyric.
  5. 5 Quatrains.

Poetry essay success

  1. 1 Try to refer to the wording of the essay title two or three times during the course of your essay. This should ensure that you are answering the question effectively.
  2. 2 If asked to compare or contrast two poems, make sure you give equal weight to both of them.
  3. 3 Discuss poetic technique as well as narrative content, and consider how these two things relate to each other.
  4. 4 Introduce your quotations so they are fluently integrated into the flow of your sentences. Then analyse their effect. Don’t just expect them to speak for themselves.
  5. 5 Use adverbs or phrases such as ‘moreover’, nevertheless’, ‘in addition’ and ‘however’. These indicate whether you intend to develop a previous point or change tack, and help the reader follow your argument.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 6
  • Peer Reviewed essays 3
  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Marked by a teacher

    Tear, idle tears. analyse, with close reference to the poem, how the author deals with the subject of loss

    4 star(s)

    tears meant .It is also the retort of a wounded angry pride, the poet is ashamed at himself for crying over such a trifle. The tears had ?depth?, ?rise[ing] in the heart? suggesting that the tears weren?t shallow and feigned, the tears weren?t shed without meaning, instead, they were caused by an irrepressible sadness from the depths of his heart. ?Divine despair? further emphasizes that the sadness was no ordinary one, it was otherworldly, such that no other mortal would experience, symbolizing the devastation brought about by the loss.

    • Word count: 1086
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast Tithonus and Ulysses.

    4 star(s)

    imagery of emptiness and desolation; 'among these barren crags, match'd with an aged wife' he not only graphically depicts his discontent but also suggests that he can not engage in procreation as his wife is infertile. However it soon becomes apparent that the narrators have entirely different objectives; Tithonus is weary of the world, he has been immortalised without eternal youth and as a direct result he must suffer the pain of age without the reprieve of death; his wife, Dawn, inadvertently neglected to request eternal youth for her lover from the Gods and as such he as and old man prays for death: 'the happier dead...

    • Word count: 1163
  3. Marked by a teacher

    How does Tennyson create a memorable character in Ulysses?

    3 star(s)

    Ulysses heroic desire to discover new worlds and to fight life to the end makes him a memorable character. The use of enjambment represents the idea of pushing forward 'beyond the utmost bound of human thought'. Tennyson's constant use of movement verbs, for example 'roaming', emphasises Ulysses desire for travel. The eating and drinking metaphors such as 'hungry heart' and 'drunk delight' represent the idea of fulfilment and Ulysses insatiable appetite for life and adventure. The intensifiers such as 'greatly' and 'much' emphasise this. Ulysses wants to live life to the full, and inspires the reader to do the same.

    • Word count: 1085
  4. Marked by a teacher

    The Lady Of Shalott Feminist Reading

    3 star(s)

    With the use of dismal imagery, Tennyson constructs the setting to resemble a prison with "four grey walls, and four grey towers" entrapping her and physically separating the character from the rest of the world. The colour is repeated to enforce emphasis upon the monotonous and dreary existence of the Lady of Shalott, which contrasts dramatically with the rest of picturesque Camelot as the "sun came dazzling thro' the leaves" and the darkness is described as a beautiful "purple night".

    • Word count: 1386
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Critical Commentary - Mariana

    3 star(s)

    The main house - the 'thatch' - is 'ancient', 'weeded' and 'worn', the alliteration in 'weeded and worn' further emphasising the fact that the house is an uninhabited (save for Mariana) and 'lonely' place surrounded by a moat. As aforementioned, the moat physically isolates the house from the rest of the area. The fact that the poet has personified the grange is emphatic on Mariana's loneliness: she is so alone that even the most inanimate objects seem alive. The 'broken sheds' that looked 'sad and strange' add further to an atmosphere of desolation and misery, the alliteration found in 'sad and strange' contributing to this effect.

    • Word count: 1438
  6. Marked by a teacher

    A later poet said 'Old men ought to be explorers'. What do you think he meant by that? Do you think he would have approved of the Ulysses who speaks in this poem? What would be your own assessment of Ulysses' character?

    3 star(s)

    Also the poet specifically chose 'ought' as though there is an obligation, or a duty, to become one of these explorers, or perhaps that one might be seen as foolish or failed if one does not spend time in one's final years exploring something. Being a 'later' poet, he would have been able to look back and see the revolutionary ways that peoples' every day lives had changed due to the discoveries made during the Victorian era. Although there were of course destructive or depressing sides to the Industrial Revolution, for example the poverty in the slums, if so many

    • Word count: 2520
  7. Peer reviewed

    Look again at Ulysses and write about Tennysons narrative techniques

    5 star(s)

    Finally, the balance between lines and theme is also important- twenty-six lines go on the zeal of Ulysses' previous explorations, and a further twenty-six go on his hopes, fears and attitudes for and towards the future. In contrast, he spends only eleven lines on his government and responsibility, and can spare just a single bitter indictment, "aged wife" for the ever faithful Penelope. This structure echoes the theme of responsibility against detachment- Ulysses' excessive description of himself and the fleeting mention of his subjects illustrates his abdication of responsibility and the egocentric nature of his character, although this could be expected from a great classical king.

    • Word count: 3356
  8. Peer reviewed

    How does Tennyson bring mental pessimism and Victorian optimism in his use of myths and legends?

    3 star(s)

    Some of the greatest poems created by Tennyson are based on myths and legends. He possessed the talent of giving the myths and legends a very new look just to show how these poems adjust with the people and the crises of his time. These poems are - Ulysses, The Lotos Eaters, Tithonus, Oenone, Morte D'Arther etc. Now we are to discuss these poems and observe closely the use of myths and legends Homer's Odysseus or Tennyson's Ulysses is about to leave his island Kingdom of Ithaca and set out of a great adventure, because he is a man dissatisfied with his lot as a king.

    • Word count: 1302
  9. Peer reviewed

    "What are the poetic skills Tennyson uses in his narrative poems?"

    3 star(s)

    At the start of each stanza there is a narrative voice and Mariana's voice at the end. Each stanza describes a different area of her life. In the first stanza we see everything falling apart, "The rusted nails fell from the knots" (Stanza 1 line 3) This is a comparison to how her life is falling apart. At the end of each of the first six stanzas there are three lines which are always the same, "He cometh not, she said,' she said; She said, 'I am aweary, aweary, I would that I were dead!' " (stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6 lines 10-11-12)

    • Word count: 3147
  10. Tennysons Poetry is defined by a desire to escape the world rather than engage with it. Do you agree? Explore in relation to Ulysses and The Lotos Eaters

    He also conveys the distance between the two, physically separating them and continuing the apathy felt by Ulysses, 'he works his work, I mine', by separating them between a pause and setting up the two characters as definitively opposed to each other. The reason for the use of these techniques it so that Tennyson can highlight the flaws of reality, using the above examples, we can deduce that he wants the reader to believe that Ulysses wants nothing from the world he is currently in, and so can set up a more desirable alternative for the character to aspire to.

    • Word count: 1217
  11. Alfred Lord Tennysons In Memoriam contains many theological elements debating the confusion between science and religion. The striking theology in the poem makes it different from the other contemporary Victorian poems.

    Clearly, though he does start with a strong belief in God, though he struggles mightily with his faith over the course of the poem. Throughout In Memoriam Tennyson reexamines his faith in God with respect to Nature by employing the conflicting discourses of biblical writing and science writing. Tennyson first begins to deal deeply with the issues of nature and God in the 54th canto of In Memoriam with his faith seemingly still intact. Though it may have been shaken a bit by this point, it is still merely cosmetic damage, not structural.

    • Word count: 2282
  12. Analysis of 'Break, Break, Break' by Tennyson

    Furthermore, Tennyson introduces the extended metaphor central to the poem in this first stanza: 'On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! / And I would that my tongue could utter / The thoughts that arise in me.' In this example, the poetic voice directly addresses the sea, as if he is searching for a form of understanding from the greater power of nature in order to alleviate his angst. It is within this mode of personification that the poet achieves a sense of poignancy in his presentation of the melancholy of the speaker and in turn, emphasises his sense of

    • Word count: 978
  13. 'The Lotus Eaters' by Tennyson

    Metaphorically though, this last line of the poem represents an end to exploration. This line is saying the growth of England is stunted and will not move forward. However, it could be conceived as forward looking but in a negative light because it could be seen as a prediction of the fall of the British Empire. The whole poem is a metaphor for the British Empire. Throughout there are tired words and phrases such as "languid," "weary dream" and "slumberous." These slow words demonstrate a state of paralysis, being stuck and not moving anywhere.

    • Word count: 922
  14. The Lady of Shalott - a feminist reading When considered from a feminist perspective, The Lady of Shalott is an excellent representation of the struggle faced by females in the Victorian Age.

    Rigid social codes were followed in terms of etiquette and behaviour. It is the Lady's rejection of these Victorian ideals of femininity that ultimately lead to her destruction. After seeing the city's people and the 'dazzling' Lancelot, she rejects her life of solitude and actively seeks a more traditional lifestyle. However, the restricted society has no place for the creative female and destroys her. The Lady is doomed to remain an outsider to society. She is completely isolated on her own island; 'a silent isle embowers'; confined to a solitary turret.

    • Word count: 1000
  15. One of the intriguing aspects of Tennysons Ulysses is the fact that he sets his monologue years after the events of the Odyssey

    Odyssey, in which he predicted that Odysseus would return home to Ithaca after many hardships, slay the suitors in his house, and finally that death would come to Odysseus in some manner from the sea, once he had become an old man. The content of Tennyson's poem, however, follows the great Italian poet Dante's version of the character more than Homer's. In fact, Tennyson's choice of the Latinized name "Ulysses" as the poem's title emphasizes this connection. In Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno (one of the three parts of his great work The Divine Comedy), Dante visits the many levels

    • Word count: 1478
  16. alfred tennyson- the lady shalott

    The poem thus captures the conflict between an artist's desire for social involvement and his/her doubts about whether such a commitment is viable for someone dedicated to art. The poem may also express a more personal dilemma for Tennyson as a specific artist: while he felt an obligation to seek subject matter outside the world of his own mind and his own immediate experiences--to comment on politics, history, or a more general humanity--he also feared that this expansion into broader territories might destroy his poetry's magic.

    • Word count: 200
  17. A comaprison between mariana and the lady of shallot

    "He cometh not," refers to the man that she loves. "Oh God, that I were dead!" this shows that she is extremely distraught that she is not with her lover that she wishes that she was dead. This is made worse because she is totally isolated from any other human interaction so she has nothing to take her mind of her lover. In the Lady of Shalott, the lady of Shalott falls in love with Sir Lancelot, but again it is unrequited love.

    • Word count: 1799
  18. "Ulysses" by Lord Alfred Tennyson

    The given poem and the ten lines presented above are a good example of how form and certain concepts the author uses help him to reflect the meaning of the work and make it clear and easy-understandable. These ten lines speak about living life as fully as possibly and point out the connection of a man with everything and everyone he has ever seen or met. Experience gained during the long life is compared to an arch through which one sees a lot of places unseen and undiscovered yet - the more one sees and experiences, the sharper he understands that there is still much more to see and live through.

    • Word count: 639
  19. Compare and Contrast Ulysses and Tithonus Josh Benson LSM ww Ulysses and Tithonus are narrated by two men, who are both very much unhappy. They both want different

    He questions 'why should a man desire in any way to vary from the kindly race of men'. Ulysses however does want to be different and has no thoughts of anything different. He wants to be famous and talks about himself as being full of energy and something of a hero. He claims to be and 'idle king' and singles himself out from others. He believes the people 'that hoard, and sleep, and feed and know not me' are so different from himself. Being ruler of Ithaca - something most power hungry people would be satisfied - with its 'common duties', is not enough for Ulysses.

    • Word count: 978
  20. In Tennyson's poem 'The Lady of Shalott', I feel that he has successfull

    This picture successfully conveys the female characters emotion of being abandoned and forgotten, her feelings in this poem are put mostly across through her hopeless surroundings. In the poem 'Mariana' (6th stanza) Tennyson takes us inside the house but the feeling of decay and despair is the same inside. The house is equally isolated and dead inside '...the doors upon their hinges creak'd; the blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse behind the mouldering winsot shriek'd...' This is a clear example of how Tennyson uses the description of the natural world to describe how the female character is feeling.

    • Word count: 789
  21. I think that in Tennyson's poems, 'The lady of Shalott' and 'Mariana', the central female characters are presented to us in the way that Tennyson views women and their roles in society. There

    This poem reveals a lot about the Victorian concept of love and women. The lady in the poem embodies the true Victorian image of the "ideal" woman: virginal, embowered, innocent and obedient, also dedicated to her tasks. In Tennyson's other poem, 'Mariana', there isn't a development of a narrative or even character. The poem focuses on creating this picture of an abandoned place and the idea that this place has been forgotten. 'Mariana' opens with the presentation of surroundings and begins with a description of an abandoned place '...With blackest moss the flower-plots, were thickly crusted, one and all: The rusted nails fell from the knots...'

    • Word count: 1432
  22. Illustrated in the poems 'The Lady of Shalott" and 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 'The Door' by Mir slave Holub and 'The Girl in Times Square', a novel by Paulina Simmons.

    The first and most important change that occurs in this text is the arrival of Sir Lancelot in Shalott. He is represented through the imagery of flames, sun, sparkle, glitter, stars, gold, silver, shine, burning light and glow. It was His mere presence that further sickened The lady of Shalott of only seeing shadows and compelled her to leave her loom. The fact that the decision to leave was hers alone, even though the consequence was death, eliminated her original fear of the curse.

    • Word count: 1339
  23. Comparative Essay: Frost and Tennyson

    (Frost, ll. 3, 4). Having no worries. Wanting to let go of all responsibility and relax. The whole poem radiates calmness, stillness, and serenity. Another example is when Frost says," The woods are lovely and deep." (ll. 13). Reference to woods and use of the word "deep" creates a tone of yearning to give up and explore and discover. The rhyme scheme is also important because it is A-A-B-A-B-B-C-B-C-C-D-C-D-D-D-D. As you notice toward the end of the poem, the rhyme scheme is D-D-D-D.

    • Word count: 1328
  24. How does Tenyson describe the eagle?

    In line 3 the author describes the 'azure' (blue) world that surrounds the eagle. This is the big blue sky and the vast mass of sea that is around the eagle. 'Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.' When the author says 'he stands' at the end of the line he is putting the idea across that the Eagle is much more than just a bird, he is standing tall in the centre of his world as if her is in control like a god.

    • Word count: 1004
  25. "The Lady of Shalott" - review

    used very much and it has an effect on the mood and the atmosphere created, "Hung in the golden galaxy, the bride bells rang merrily" The gold colour makes you feel happy and cheerful contrary to the pale yellow in the following quote which makes it all dark and gloomy by using words such as "complaining". "The pale yellow woods were waning, the broad stream in his banks complaining." The atmosphere in each section differs and is sometimes affected by the weather, in section 1 it is mysterious and suspicious as you do not know who she is or where she came from.

    • Word count: 904

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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