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Tennyson's poem, 'Ulysses', explores many different aspects of death.
It addresses the issues of growing old and coping with challenges in
later life. Ulysses is a single developed monologue, in comparison
'Not my Best Side' is a three part monologue all intersecting and
converging on each other.
Tennyson's choice of the title 'Ulysses' arouses curiosity as he
chooses the Latin translation for the name as opposed to the Greek.
The poems message reflects the Victorian ethics and the Homeric era.
The poem is based on Ulysses return to his home on the island of
Ithaca. On his return he is disappointed to abandon battle as he,
"cannot rest from travel"
Tennyson astounds the reader by breaking down their stereotypical
thoughts of Ulysses, as being a strong, heroic, and fair character.
Instead, he installs the idea of a bitter Ulysses, one which is,
"Match'd with an aged wife,"
This thought shocks the reader. Tennyson goes on to say that Ulysses
Tennyson also explains that the character Ulysses will,
"drink / life to the lees
This gives an adventurous and heroic sense to Ulysses, but is short
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island of Ithaca and that he intends to abrogate his powers to his
Tennyson describes Ulysses as wanting to work ,to explore right to the
end of his life, and not to stay on Ithaca,
"Death closes all: but something ere the end, / Some work of noble
note, may yet be done, / â€¦ Tis not too late to seek a newer world."
'Not my Best Side' uses three separate stanzas showing three different
characters. These stanzas also form the characters dramatic monologues
which all intersect an play off each other. The author adds this to
create a sense of individuality and to separate the characters. The
author also labels each stanza with a Roman Numeral to add to that
Fanthorpe's choice of words for each character deceives the reader in
the case of the first dramatic monologue. The dragon is personified
and given a voice. A stereotypical view of a dragon conjures thoughts
of mystical powers, and tyrannical beings. Fanthorpe does not choose
this approach, and describes her antithetical dragon as being
apologetic and defensive,
"Not my best side, I'm afraid. The artist didn't give me time to pose"
She implies that the dragon is the victim and he has great disapproval
for the artists interpretation of the scene.
The author also attempts to give the impression of normal colloquial
speech by using a caesura on many lines. This creates a more personal
account of the monologue and draws the reader into the poem. Fanthorpe
makes the first character, the Dragon, to be a literate well spoken
creature, by using phrases such as,
The second dramatic monologue in this poem is from the perspective of
the woman who is being rescued. Fanthorpe manages to astound the
reader once more by stating that woman,
"quite Took to the dragon"
The woman goes on and enumerates the dragons excellent qualities,
"He was so nicely physical, with his sexy tailâ€¦but the dragon - Well
you could see all of his equipment at a glance."
Fanthorpe further breaks down the stereotypical image by listing poor
points about the knight in armour. The very person who was there to
The knight in the third dramatic monologue is seen to be obsessed with
technical data, equipment and information. He is seen by the reader to
be self-obsessed, vain and a bully.
"My spear is custom built,/ And my prototype armour / Still on the
secret list /â€¦ So why be difficult"
The author also makes the knight pigeon hole people in definite
categories, straight forward, black and white. This adds to the
feeling against him and makes the reader support the woman.
The knight also seems ignorant. As he says,
"You are endangering job prospects / In the spear and horse-building
Both Fanthorpe and Tennyson use monologue to the full extent in their
poems to build characters and add a sense of feeling. Both poets
carefully lay out the poem to reflect the mood and in Fanthorpes poem,
use it to divide the piece and shape it around the speech.