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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. 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. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. The Use of the Female Persona in Lady of Shalott and Mariana.

    This island, called Shalott, is within eyesight of the storied city of Camelot. The river itself flows straight into and through Camelot. Great fields of barley and rye lie on both sides of the river, and through the field's runs a heavily traveled road that leads to Camelot. The woman's castle of four gray walls and four gray towers is hidden among the aspens and willows of the silent island. Life goes by her castle on the river and the road, but she is never seen or even known of by those passing by the island.

    • Word count: 1888
  15. Write an essay on Tithonus: how far does Tennyson convey the experience of Tithonus?

    The enjambment and introduction of an adjective (the previous lines contain none) further add discord to the stanza, and this echoes the manner in which Tithonus has disrupted the flow of nature, stopping the cycle of creation and destruction, and acting as a Deity. Thus one could suggest the first stanza acts as a warning against hubris, but Tithonus is more than a warning: it goes on to describe the pain that he feels. Ulysses described the narrator's desire to "strive, to seek, to find and not to yield," but one detects a sense of melancholy, in that the images of stasis overpower those of action, which are superficial at best - they represent an urge rather than real intention.

    • Word count: 1002
  16. Are these poems about a lost past, or are they really about Victorian England?

    He later began to write again in 1842 with poem such as Locksley Hall, Ulysses, Morte d'Arthur by this time he was known as a great poet. In his poems from after 1842 we can see a change in his writing and notice that he has doubts about the modern scientific age and we can see his thoughts are incorporated in his poems, and how they are about a lost past (Morte d`Arthur). One of tennysons renowned poems "Lady of Shalott" is clearly about what it was like in Victorian times as we there a lot examples of how it would have been to live for an Victorian woman.

    • Word count: 1089
  17. Crossing the Bar contains the most powerful presentation of death in the anthology. To what extent do you agree? Discuss with reference to two other poems in the collection Tennyson question

    Both ?Crossing the Bar? and ?Break break break? use imagery of the sea to convey different meanings. In ?Crossing the Bar?, the sea represents the world the speaker will transgress into after death. ?And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea?. Tennyson uses the metaphor of the sandbar to describe the barrier between life and death. One side of the sandbar is life and the sea on the other side is death. This is a powerful representation because Tennyson sets out a distinction between the two worlds clearly, suggesting that death should be embraced because it?s now peaceful and natural.

    • Word count: 1003
  18. How does Tennyson create the mood in "Marianna".

    and the ?rusted? nails draws attention to the derelict and desolate landscape. The fact that moss and the rust only emerge after a long period of neglect highlights the severity of the neglect that Mariana has gone through, making the mood even more sorrowful. A sense of tiredness from waiting for her lover is emphasised through the form of the poem. The repetition of a quatrain at the end of each stanza, with only slight variation, where Mariana continually called out and expressed her grief, emphasises the length of time Mariana is secluded in the grange, and indeed the length of time that she has been waiting for Angelo to return.

    • Word count: 1115
  19. How Does Tennyson create Character in "Ulysses" and "Tithonus"?

    But it can also be seen as admirable, as he yearns to go life-threatening adventures and do things that others dare not. The language that Tennyson uses to create character in ?Ulysses? is egocentric, emotive and philosophical. ?Myself not least, not honour?d of them all? shows Ulysses egocentric nature. He claims that his people ?sleep, and feed and know not me? making his new found life sound monotonous and mundane in comparison to ?that unravell?d world? that he yearns to explore.

    • Word count: 1094

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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