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Tennyson’s Poetry

by: Alfred Lord Tennyson

Suggested Essay Topics

1. In what ways was Tennyson an heir to the Romantic generation? In what ways did he differ from his predecessors?

2. How did the death of Arthur Henry Hallam impact Tennyson’s poetry?

3. How does the refrain change in the various stanzas of “Mariana”? Do these changes indicate any sort of development or progression in the poem?

4. “The Lady of Shalott” has most commonly been interpreted as a poem about the relationship between art and life. How can the Lady’s story be interpreted in these terms? Do you find this interpretation compelling?

8. In what way do “Ulysses” and “The Lotos- Eaters” present conclusions thematically antithetical to one another? Do these poems speak to one another? What conclusions might both support?

5. Several of Tennyson’s poems have mythological as well as autobiographical origins. How do these origins come into play in a poem such as “Ulysses” or “The Epic”?

6. Compare the different ways in which Tennyson chooses a classical theme or figure to symbolically discuss the notion of departing from life’s natural course? Consider specifically the poems “Tithonus,” “Ulysses,” and “The Lotos-Eaters.”

7. Tennyson uses several Christian images in his poetry, including the three Christmases that structure time in “In Memoriam” and the image of the Pilot in “Crossing the Bar.” What other such images does Tennyson employ? Is Tennyson making a statement about Christianity in these references? What might he be saying?