Essay on Alfred Lord Tennyson's Maud; A Monodrama - Madness or Maud?

Essay on Alfred Lord Tennyson's Maud; A Monodrama - Madness or Maud?

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Alfred Lord Tennyson's Maud; A Monodrama - Madness or Maud?


The journey of life overflows with grand moments intermingled with inevitable sorrow. Each moment creating a chain reaction. In Maud; A Monodrama, Alfred Lord Tennyson explores the journey of a man in the universal search for the perfect Garden of Eden. Originally titled Maud or Madness, he described the “little Hamlet” as the history of a morbid poetic soul” who is “the heir of madness, an egotist with the makings of a cynic” (Hill 214). In the throes of madness, the protagonist experiences the grandest emotional triumph and the lowest depths of despair. Each milestone is marked by his cynicism. The protagonist “in his happiness, he is a cynic, in his unhappiness, a madman” (Crayon n. p.). Tennyson uses floral symbolism and vivid imagery to explore the mental voyage of madness in this “splendidly executed psychological study” (Hill 214).

Since the days of the early Greeks, florigraphy - the language of flowers - has been used to convey "a wide range of human emotions, conditions, events, or ideas" (Seattle n. p.). From the "strength in character" of the gladiolus to the "delicate beauty" of the hibiscus, flowers are symbolic in the message and the image they produce (Tansy n. p.). Tennyson uses florigraphy to symbolize man’s desire to create the perfect Garden of Eden and to expose the contrary emotions the protagonist feels towards Maud. She is "associated with both lily and rose, as both a chaste subject and a sexual object" (Johnson 111). Traditionally, the lily symbolizes "coquetry and purity" and the rose symbolizes passion (Tansy n p.). Maud is the "shrinking reticence" of the lily when the protagonist is content with their relationship and the "aggressive...


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...innesota Press, 1969.

Seattle. “Symbolic Meanings Flowers Convey.” n. pag. Online: Internet. 5 November 1998. Available http://www.seattleflowers.com/floriography.html

Shaw, Marion. “The Contours of Manliness and the Nature of Woman.” Critical Essays on Alfred Lord Tennyson. Ed. Herbert F. Tucker. New York: G. K. Hall, 1993. 219-233.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Multibility.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. 647.

Tansy. “The Language of Flowers.” n. pag. Online: Internet. 5 November 1998. Available http://www.primenet.com/~tansy/language.html

Tennyson, Alfred Lord. “Maud; A Monodrama.” Tennyson’s Poetry. Ed. Robert W. Hill New York: W. W. Norton, 1971. 214-215.

Tucker, Herbert F. “Maud and the Doom of Culture.” Critical Essays on Alfred Lord Tennyson. Ed. Herbert F. Tucker. New York: G. K. Hall, 1993. 174-194.

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