Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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Poetry: Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson

In this essay I will focus on the poem Ulysses, which is a dramatic monologue, by Lord Alfred Tennyson. I will first give my understanding of what is meant by a dramatic monologue, and then I will give a brief history about who Ulysses was. Lastly I will attempt to analyse the poem.

A dramatic monologue is defined as a long speech performed by one person other than the poet. There is a discrepancy between the poet (speaker) and the performer (person performing the poem). The performer is the person in the poem whom the poet makes use of in order to send a message and/or to express his thoughts to the public. A dramatic monologue is something like a lyric poem; it is not an element in a play. The dramatic device used to express a monologue is called a soliloquy. The person who performs the speech may address other people, namely the auditors, but the auditors will not speak directly. The only way that we will be aware of other people's roles in the poem is through clues given to us by the performer. The performer does not purposefully make reference to himself; the focus is on the speaker's argument, not the auditors' situation. The poem, Ulysses, has all the above characteristics; hence it is a dramatic monologue. In this poem Ulysses is the performer/narrator.

Ulysses is the name of an Ancient Greek hero. It is the English (and Latin) name for Odysseus, the king of the Greek island of Ithaca. In those days, Greece was made up of several city-states; Ithaca was one of these city-states. King Ulysses was married to a beautiful and devoted lady called Penelope. The wedded couple conceived a son, Telemachus.

It is observed that Tennyson used the Roman (English) name Ulysses for his poem and not the Greek one Odysseus. The Greeks thought of Ulysses as a hero, however the Romans detested him. Interestingly, Tennyson uses the latter name. Perhaps he is indicating t... Continue Reading