Tennyson's Ulysses: A Call to Humanity Essay

Tennyson's Ulysses: A Call to Humanity Essay

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s subject matter and tone of his poetry became drastically different following the death of his best friend (Cain 126), a reaction to bearing the emotional brunt of life without him. This friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, whom Tennyson met in the poets’ club at Trinity College in Cambridge, and who was also engaged to Tennyson’s sister (Cain 126) died in Vienna at age 22 of a cerebral aneurysm (Cash 6). Combining pure emotion and thought into one, Tennyson finished “Ulysses,” one of his greatest poetic works, 20 days after being informed of his death (Cash 6).
In a letter written by Tennyson, he states that “Ulysses” is about “going forward and braving the struggle of life” and it is ”written under the sense of loss‟ (Cash 6). In “Ulysses,” Tennyson takes hold of his intense grief for the loss of one of his best friends and transforms it into an ode to living life with as much intensity and adventure as possible. In order to effectively and poetically convey his message, Tennyson utilizes many literary devices, and in analysis of the work it becomes clear that the primary triumph in “Ulysses’ ” language is its powerful utilization of symbolism, as demonstrated in the poem and reinforced by academic critique and analysis. The way in which Tennyson manages to string these symbols together further enhances and strengthens his poetic vision.
Throughout “Ulysses,” Tennyson symbolizes his sense of loss of a friend by projecting himself into the poem through Ulysses’ character, as he also once admitted in one of his letters (Cash 6). One could say the entire theme of the poem, “living one’s life to the fullest,” is a tribute to Hallam’s short-lived life and an is also ode to life without Hallam. Hallam was the adventu...


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...nd the West through “Ulysses,” because its message is something every human is able to feel — the need to know more, the need to understand, the need to grow as an intellectual. Its passion is one of many things that further unifies us as a species on a level beyond biological processes, and for that he deserves the utmost respect and recognition for the masterpiece he procured.



Works Cited

Cain, Kathleen Shine, et al. Introduction to Literature. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions,
2012. Print.
Cash, Peter. "Alfred Tennyson." English Association Bookmarks 68 (2011): 1-24. Web. 4
Mar. 2014.
Hales, John W. Folia Litteraria; Essays and Notes on English Literature. London: Seeley
and Co. Ltd., 1893. Print.
Kyriakidou, Evangelina. "Tennyson's Ulysses: Odysseus as a Siren." Tennyson's Ulysses:
Odysseus as a Siren. The Classics Network, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.

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