Ulysses Essay

1056 WordsDec 16, 20125 Pages
Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” truly shows Ulysses’ grief and struggle with the inactivity that characterizes his old age. The speaker emphasizes the differences between him and his son, Telemachus, by describing his past experiences. Ulysses also describes Telemachus, the potential new king, his actions, and his way of ruling the kingdom. Ulysses is discontent with his way of life, but respects his son for his values and choices. Ulysses uses words such as “idle,” “still,” “barren,” and “aged” to show his sedentary life as king. He contrasts his present dull life to his past fascinating experiences and travels. He complains, It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race (1-4). These lines reveal Ulysses’ inactivity and his dissatisfaction. Ulysses adds that he can not bare to rest from traveling, and he will “drink life to the lees.” In other words, he will not stop until he has fulfilled his quest of traveling the world. In line twelve he explains that during his youth he was “always roaming with a hungry heart” because he was never satisfied settling in one place. He compares himself to someone who is hungry and thirsty, because he is not satisfied with settling. As someone needs food and drink to stay alive, he needs to travel to be full and content. In lines 13-18 Ulysses engages the reader by turning their attention to his past, illuminating his thoughts on his not-so-recent travels. Ulysses reflects on his fame: “Cities of men/And manners, climates, councils, governments,/ Myself to least, but honor’d of them all.” Ulysses desires his previous fame, and believes that the “savages” he rules do not honor his adventures. Ulysses’ identity depends on his experiences. When he declares, “I am part of all that I have met,” he establishes that he has been

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