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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. 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
  2. Tennysons women are more engaging then his men. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

    ??Weeded and worn the ancient thatch upon the lonely moated grange.? This makes the reader feel inquisitive about Marianna and her dreaminess state. The use of imagery heightens the effect of the language and enthralls the reader to such an extent that they must continue reading the poem. In comparison to Sir Lancelot in the Lady of Shalott, his brief interlude in the poem to remark on the Lady of Shalott?s appearance makes him appear callous and egotistic. In contrast Marianna appears more engaging then Sir Lancelot because she represented as mysterious and enigmatic character, while Sir Lancelot lacks personality and individuality.

    • Word count: 729

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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