Ulysses Essay Research Paper Alferd Tennysons

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Ulysses Essay, Research Paper Alferd Tennysons’s “Ulysses ”Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ is both a lament and an inspiring poem. Even modern readers who are not so familiar with the classics, can visualize the heroic legend of Ulysses, and so is not prepared for what he finds in the poem— not Ulysses the hero but Ulysses the man. Tennyson brings out the agony felt by Ulysses at his old age, The influence of the Industrial age can be seen in Tennyson’s usage of the word ‘profits’ in the very first line . The character calls himself ‘idle’ showing his disillusionment at this ripe stage of life .The “still hearth” and “the barren crags” symbolize death. He continues complaining about his hapless state and the reader begins to detect the shallowness

of character of this otherwise larger than life legend. He is so self-centered and full of self pity that he shows scant respect for those close to him and those that he rules as seen in lines 4-5. His pride keeps him from calling himself old, in that many words ; He has to allude to his wife’s age to let the reader in on his own advanced years. The wisdom and grace of old age seem to elude him completely as he metaphorically claims “I will drink life to the lees.”Tennyson uses vivid imagery in lines 10 – 11, the “rainy Hyades”again bringing out the fear of death in the narrator . The lines “I am become a name”, and “ myself not least , but honored them all” reflects the awareness Ulysses has of his legendry fame . The reader begins to identify with the

character as he seems fraught with the same faults that afflict normal men . “A hungry heart’ is a personification used to highlight the character’s insatiable desire to travel and explore “ I am part of all that I met “, portray the swelling pride of one who knows he is a legend. In lines 22-25 the character laments at having to , ‘pause’ and “ to make an end” symbolizing imminent death. He hates his infirm state as can be seen in lines 24- 30.”For some three suns “ is a connotation suggesting he has been in bed for three days, which for him is the most demeaning of all . Ulysses can see death at his doorstep , yet feels every hour can be used for the unending quest for knowledge. Tennyson uses a powerful simile in line 31 equating ‘knowledge ‘ to

‘the sinking star’ which is the most elusive and the most difficult to discern in the sky. In line 32 he uses a hyperbole to dramatize the extent of the character’s desire for the unknown and the unexplored . The second part of the poem, lines 33-43 are devoted to the contrast between father and son , one can feel the heavy sarcasm in the words “ slow prudence” “blamelessness” and “decency” of his son. He is contemptuous of these traits, which maybe harmless and noble, yet are hardly worthy of a great king. Ulysses’ wandering spirit looks upon any kind of softness as a failing. He sneers at the more ‘centered’ personality of his son who governs his people in a mild and orderly manner .In lines 37-38 he reveals his paradoxical personality as he feels soft

handling is a form of subjugation that “ subdues them to the useful and the good”.Here the reader can peer into the maverick character of Ulysses and his complete disregard of anything normal and routine. Another character trait that shows through in lines 41- 42 is that of an agnostic or to put it less strongly, he shows a “jovial agnosticism”.(Landow) .The poem is a dramatic representation of a man who has faith neither in the gods nor in the necessity of preserving order in his kingdom and his own life(Landow). Just as the reader is wearing down under the relentless spate of negative traits of Ulysses, Tennyson brings respite in the third stanza reminding one of the past glories of this fabled soldier of the Trojan war. With rich usage of symbols and visual imagery, he