Compare and Contrast Tithonus and Ulysses.

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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 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.

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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… Restore me to the ground’. This cannot possibly happen, as the Gods simply cannot retract their actions; ‘The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts’. Despite his love and admiration ...

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**** 4 Stars 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.