• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

One of the intriguing aspects of Tennysons Ulysses is the fact that he sets his monologue years after the events of the Odyssey

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Odysseus was the hero of the ancient Greek poet Homer's great epic poem, the Odyssey. Homer's earlier epic, the Iliad tells the story of Achilles and the other mythological heroes of the Trojan War. After the Trojan Prince Paris abducted the legendary beauty Helen of Troy from her husband, the Greek Menelaus, the Greeks launched a ten-year war against the Trojans in an effort to win Helen back. After a long and difficult war, the Greeks finally defeated the Trojans, and the Greek warriors returned to their homes in Greece. Odysseus's homeward journey, an arduous ten-year journey filled with many dangers, distractions, and adventures, comprises the story of the Odyssey. One of the intriguing aspects of Tennyson's "Ulysses" is the fact that he sets his monologue years after the events of the Odyssey - after Odysseus's many adventures on his journey, and after his long efforts to reclaim his household on the island of Ithaca. During his twenty-year absence, a host of greedy suitors had been hanging around his home, trying to convince Odysseus's lovely wife Penelope to give up waiting for her husband to return and to marry one of them instead. Tennyson's Ulysses is an old man, apparently addressing a group of men in an effort to raise a new crew for one final adventure at sea. The situation may have been suggested in part by the old prophet Tiresias' mysterious prediction of Odysseus' death in Book 11 of the ...read more.

Middle

Ulysses praises Telemachus' virtues here, mentioning his "slow prudence" and the fact that he is "centred in the sphere / of common duties," but in praising his son, he also points out a significant contrast in their personalities. "He works his work, I mine," the old king says; a statement that has encouraged a number of critics to read a tone of irony into this "praise" of his son. In Ulysses' description of him, Telemachus is not, after all, the kind of man Ulysses himself strives to be. Readers who are familiar with Homer may remember the great lengths to which Telemachus went in the Odyssey in both searching for his father and in protecting his father's home from the suitors. Recalling these details may encourage the interpretation that Ulysses undervalues his son, as his brief mention of Penelope as "an aged wife" undervalues the great lengths that Penelope underwent in fending off scores of suitors and in remaining loyal to her husband in the twenty years that he was absent from Ithaca. Tennyson began composing "Ulysses" in 1833, immediately following the shocking and sudden death of his closest friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. In the ten years following Hallam's death, Tennyson worked on a grand elegy for his friend, a series of many short poems lamenting his friend's death that he eventually published in 1850 as InMemoriam A. ...read more.

Conclusion

not we are intended to see his will to live and his desire for adventure as honorable qualities, or rather to see that his wish for escape and for constant stimulation indicates a resistance to accept the idea of his own death. There may be another way to interpret the theme of death in the poem. Tennyson's Ulysses does seem to be preoccupied with his own mortality in such statements as "Life piled on life / Were all too little, and of one to me / Little remains," and in how he looks to every hour as an opportunity to evade death, saying that "every hour is saved / From that eternal silence, something more, / A bringer of new things." Ulysses also brings up the issue of death when he says, "Death closes all: but something ere the end, / Some work of noble note, may yet be done." Is Ulysses obsessed with dying, is he merely trying to get the most out of life, or is he looking for a final opportunity to garner a bit more fame before it is too late? Is he the great and noble hero of Homer's epic, or the deceitful Ulysses of Dante, shirking his responsibilities to a loyal family and kingdom? The brilliance of this poem, as readers throughout the years have continued to discover, lies in its many possibilities for interpretation and in the many differing messages a reader may take from it. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Alfred Lord Tennyson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Alfred Lord Tennyson essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and Contrast Tithonus and Ulysses.

    4 star(s)

    haire'd shadow roaming like a dream', indirect contrast to the Dawn's life and vitality, renewed every day: 'Immortal age beside immortal youth', 'thy cheeks begin to redden',

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Tennyson create a memorable character in Ulysses?

    3 star(s)

    Ulysses' egotism is portrayed through his emphasis on the pronouns 'I' and 'me'. His selfishness is emphasised when he expresses his desire to leave Telemachus in charge of Ithaca. Ulysses describes his duties as 'common' and his life seems to revolve around fighting, travel and money.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    A later poet said 'Old men ought to be explorers'. What do you think ...

    3 star(s)

    As one ages therefore, coming back to the obligatory nature of the statement, one ought to be fulfilling these things and exploring for personal benefit, self-rewarding reasons or to have yet more new experiences. However, on the other hand, the poet may well also have been referring to it as an obligation for old men, for the benefit of others.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Look again at Ulysses and write about Tennysons narrative techniques

    5 star(s)

    as they are given a primitive, uneducated character as opposed to his own illustrious nature that is revealed throughout the poem. Furthermore, the lack of even a personal pronoun, "that" instead of "who", for example, furthers the distance between him and his people, the idea of detachment being inverted in conjunction with that of responsibility.

  1. Alfred Lord Tennysons In Memoriam contains many theological elements debating the confusion between science ...

    This essentially says that the reality mankind needs to face is that there is no real reason for anything, but that we are miniscule and helpless creatures that have no real way of defending our faith. He sees no way to justify his belief in God and feels helpless because of it.

  2. Tennysons Poetry is defined by a desire to escape the world rather than engage ...

    'groan', 'thrown'-which, with its elongated pronunciation has the effect of making the reader perceive toil, and thus relate it back into the text. He also repeatedly uses the word 'toil', a word that, instead of simply using 'work', has connotations of burden and suffering, and therefore is used to express discontentment with the daily labour undertaken by man.

  1. The poetic monologue "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

    He describes his subjects as "...a savage race, / That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me" (Lines 4-5). Ulysses maintains his superiority complex throughout the first two-thirds of the poem, and he includes absolutely everyone in his criticism, especially his own son, Telemachus.

  2. How Does Tennyson create Character in "Ulysses" and "Tithonus"?

    Ulysses is unafraid of the sea, and is thus unafraid of life and death. In the last two lines the poem settles into powerful and regular iambic rhythm, perhaps representing the rhythm of oars and illustrating Ulysses determination, strength of mind and will to do what he desires.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work