Looking Into Tennyson's Ulysses Essay

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Egl 102-08 November 26, 2012 Tennyson’s Ulysses: A Closer Look When first reading through Alfred Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses”, the reader may think that this is simply a poem about an old king getting ready for another journey. Many critics say that Tennyson’s poem was his own way to grieve over the loss of his best friend and attempt to move forward. However, on further examination of the poem and Tennyson’s character, Ulysses, it becomes apparent that Tennyson draws inspiration from Homer’s “The Odyssey” and Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” as well as from his own personal experience. In his poem, “Ulysses”, Tennyson created a character who believes he should be travelling the world and seeking knowledge, not sitting around waiting for death to come for him. In creating this character, Tennyson uses character traits from Odysseus of “The Odyssey” and traits from Ulysses in “The Divine Comedy”. Closely examining each of the characters will give the reader a better understanding on how Tennyson uses both “The Divine Comedy” and “The Odyssey” as inspiration for his own “Ulysses”. Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” takes place sometime after the events of “The Odyssey” and before Dante meets Ulysses in “The Divine Comedy”. Tennyson’s Ulysses seems to be an older Odysseus, who has grown weary and has decided that being a king “little profits” (Tennyson, 1) him anymore. Ulysses seems to have realized that community is not what he desires by stating “…I mete and dole/ Unequal laws unto a savage race/ That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me” (Tennyson, 3-5). The ideals of a community no longer satisfy this king. This is clearly reiterated with the statement from Ulysses that he “cannot rest from travel…” (Tennyson, 6). If one is to take the idea that Tennyson wrote this poem in order to move forward from his grief; then Ulysses is clearly Tennyson stating that
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