Tennyson's Poetry and Views

1401 Words6 Pages
Tennyson's Poetry and Views Alfred Lord Tennyson and his works have been an important part of canonical literature for over a century. He is as important as he is because his work is exceptional in many ways. One of these exceptional differences, in my opinion, is the conflicting view of women Tennyson portrays in his poetry, especially his poem "Locksley Hall." Tennyson's "Locksley Hall" is, in my opinion, a poem that would benefit greatly from an ideological discussion concerning Tennyson's views of women. This poem poses the questions: Are Tennyson's words describing a set of beliefs felt only by the narrator of the poem, or does Tennyson himself share these beliefs? Is the condescending, yet powerful view of women only the speaking character's view, or does Tennyson at least partly share that same condescending view? After all, Tennyson was a member of Victorian society. At the time Tennyson wrote "Locksley Hall in the 1800s," women's rights were just beginning to be questioned. Previous to this time of questioning, women were thought to be totally inferior to men: …it was argued that as a woman's brain was smaller in cubic content it was therefore inevitable that she was unable to reason or to generalize or to pursue a connected line of thought as well as a man could. It was the accepted belief that she was both mentally and physically inferior to man; that she was, in fact, a relative creature… (Crow, 146) But at the same time, Victorian men were putting women on pedestals. Yet, this privilege of being put upon a pedestal was really more condescension than a privilege. Duncan Crow, author of The Victorian Woman writes, "They were not privileges at all, but a code of prison rules; and the women were not queens, ... ... middle of paper ... ...all" as he did? Perhaps Tennyson never actually made known his opinion of women and the woman's place, but he did seem to think this jilted youth's rant was typical of his time. Tennyson was writing for a Victorian audience that could sympathize with this jilted youth. I believe for one such as Tennyson to even compose such a work he, at the very least, was very familiar with the conflicting Victorian view of women. This, to me, makes "Locksley Hall" somewhat of an extension of his own ideas and beliefs, concerning women, that had been thusly shaped and influenced by his own culture. Works Cited Buckler, William E., ed. The Major Victorian Poets: Tennyson, Browning, Arnold. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1973. Tennyson, Alfred Lord. "Locksley Hall." The Poetic and Dramatic Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Ed. W. J. Rolfe. NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1898.
Open Document