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AS and A Level: Alfred Lord Tennyson
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Common errors when writing about Tennyson's poems
- 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 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 Sweeping generalisations about the Victorian era – Avoid statements like ‘the Victorians believed that…’ It is most unlikely that they all did.
- 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 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 Blank verse.
- 2 Dramatic monologue.
- 3 Elegy.
- 4 Lyric.
- 5 Quatrains.
Poetry essay success
- 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 If asked to compare or contrast two poems, make sure you give equal weight to both of them.
- 3 Discuss poetic technique as well as narrative content, and consider how these two things relate to each other.
- 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 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
Tear, idle tears. analyse, with close reference to the poem, how the author deals with the subject of loss4 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
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
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