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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.

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  1. 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
  2. The Lady of Shallot - Our task was to choose a poem from an anthology we were given and to perform it in groups. We could use drama or music to go with it, or we could use both, we could also use props if we thought it would suit it.

    She lies down in it and floats down to Camelot where the people there hear her sing her last mournful song and then she dies. It was a sad poem so we choose to wear dark colours, one of the members of our group dressed up as the Lady of Shallot, she wore a black dress and black hat. We chose some music that sounded like a river flowing along to play in the background. I liked the poem we chose to do and I thought we performed it quite well.

    • Word count: 970
  3. Ulysses by Tennyson.

    At home Ulysses is unable to adjust to old age. Regardless of his physical body he feels his spirit is still longing for travel. He feels as though his wife is too old, and he governs the people with no respect, "Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole / Unequal laws unto a savage race, / That hord, and sleep, and feed, and know not of me"(Lines 3-5). Ulysses condescends his own son by describing his timidness to rule the people and how his son is more capable of the common duties.

    • Word count: 720
  4. "Consider the context of Tennyson's 'The Lady of Shalott' and analyse the presentation of the poems characters, settings and themes."

    His brother Charles died in 1879 and his son Lionel dies in 1886 and Alfred were starting to feel old and lonely. In 1891 Alfred had been ill for some months but was still working hard to produce on last volume of poems for publication. It was published two weeks after his death on the 6th of October 1892. He died peacefully, with his wife and son by his side and was buried at Westminster abbey. Romanticism is the name given to the style of art, literature, politics and music of the early 17th century until the beginning of the 18th century.

    • Word count: 2638
  5. Why does Alfred Lord Tennyson Make Arthurian world look like the Golden Age?

    This poem creates a cold, and a dark atmosphere and seems to be set in the winter season: "Between dark stems the forest glows". The poem "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinnevere" is written, and set in an opposite format to one of "Sir Galahad." This poem is a far more realistic. We get that impression in the first line of this poem. "Like souls that balance joy and pain". Tennyson is telling us that we all pass through times of joy and pain in our lives.

    • Word count: 2517
  6. Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott and Mariana.

    In Mariana the setting is completely different and you get the impression of a ramshackle old house that has gone to ruins because no one has taken care of it. 'The rusted nails fell from the knots That held the pear to the garden-wall. The broken sheds look'd sad and strange: Unlifted was the clinking latch' Again using empathy, if I were the lady inside the house I would feel alone and the fact that the house is in ruins would just make me more depressed.

    • Word count: 927
  7. 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
  8. Discussing 'Mariana' and 'The Lady of Shallot' by Alfred lord Tennyson.

    is based on an Arthurian legend where Camelot was the capital of King Arthur's realm. it is a story of the lady of shallot, stuck on an island in a tower, put under a spell .she is forced to look at every thing through a mirror and if she does look directly at Camelot then she will die. She builds up a strong passion for Sir Lancelot and becomes distressed with the confines of the tower that when she sees Sir Lance lot entering Camelot, she leaves and floats down a river, in a boat, down to Camelot and then dies when she sees Sir Lancelot, just for a glimpse of him.

    • Word count: 2870
  9. A critical appreciation of 'Ulysses' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    The mete and dole' are beneath him and he wants more king like duties. This 'savage race', 'hoard, and sleep, and feed'. Ulysses is comparing them to animals in this emphatic iambic line. The caesura in 'I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees' shows how restless he is. The run on line with the alliterative 'l' shows how he wants to live life to the fullest. Ulysses has 'become a name', but he is unhappy as although he has gained status, it cannot do anything for him. The alliteration in 'Hungry heart', conveys his desperation for adventure.

    • Word count: 961
  10. Imagine you are one of the mariners sailing with Ulysses. Describe Ulysses.

    Just like the battle of Troy, and many others. Deep down in my heart I knew that there would be a day when he would leave his family and come to us, as I have spent too many suns with Ulysses, to not know what he is like. His constant crave for adventure, and not having the capability to stay in one place for long. However, knowing and preparing myself to refuse his tempting offer, did not help. Now here I am, on the same boat that we used to fight the sea king, Poseidon, sailing away from home again, with Ulysses as our leader.

    • Word count: 649
  11. Tennyson, We can not live in art

    role of the poet as a voice for social issues rather than simply a creator of beauty for beauty's sake, ideas which can be seen to develop in his work. It would be an over simplification to suggest that Tennyson's early work was, as his close friend Arthur Hallam implied in his review of 'Poems, Chiefly Lyrical', entirely absorbed with sensation. Hallam believed that the greatest poetic minds were in tune with Nature to such an extent that they had no need to reflect upon the sordid concerns of everyday life in order to write, instead they 'felt' the beauties of nature as poetry in their 'world of images'1 (the implication being that true poets unconsciously live in art)

    • Word count: 2905
  12. 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
  13. Tennyson's The Lady Of Shalott

    This choice brings the poem to life and sets the scene brilliantly. Tennyson, although The Lady of Shalott is a fantastic poem, must have encountered many difficulties in writing his poem according to his strict rhyming and syllable pattern. There are a few hiccups in the poem where this is noticeable e.g.; part 1 By the margin, willow-veil'd Slide the heavy barges trail'd By slow horses; and unhail'd ------------This only has seven syllables instead of eight The Shallop flitteth silken-sail'd This is a good example of how Tennyson tries to cover up his mistakes.

    • Word count: 614
  14. The poems you have studied focus on the issue of age. Discuss the various attitudes presented in “Tithonus” and two of the modern poems and compare how the poets present their views. With which views do you most sympathise?

    Plus "Geriatric Ward" a depressing poem written by Phoebe Hesketh, based on the less bags which are the elderly, left to waste away in a hospital. Firstly I would like to deal with "Tithonus" this pre 20th Century poem is largely based around the emphasis "Be careful what you wish for". Tithonus was ordinary man with extraordinary looks. He was a mortal who had fallen in love with Aurora the goddess of the dawn. Aurora is immortal and born again fresh and beautiful each dawn.

    • Word count: 618
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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

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