Alfred Tennyson's "Ulysses" Analytical Essay by Research Group

Alfred Tennyson's "Ulysses"
This paper compares Alfred Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" (1833) with other versions of the Ulysses story such as Homer's "Odyssey" and Dante's Canto XXVI of "The Inferno."
# 25662 | 925 words | 3 sources | 2002 | US
Published on May 01, 2003 in Literature (English) , Literature (Poetry) , English (Analysis)

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This paper describes Alfred Tennyson's "Ulysses", as an old man looking back at his life and longing for the adventure of his youth who decides that he cannot live with the dullness of his settled existence and must go looking for adventure again. The author believes that, with the alternation of dull and vivid, prosaic and heroic language, Tennyson creates a character whose choice may not be the one that his audience would have expected when they saw the title of the poem. The paper states that the poem's ultimate message is contained in the brief, sudden line in which Ulysses, like the poet and the reader, realizes the essential fact that each person is different and those who are not content with their roles may not be fulfilling the roles they were truly meant to take on.

From the Paper:

"Structurally, his initial complaint is followed by a description of his old pleasure which culminates in a somewhat abstract goal that is, nonetheless, a higher goal than the mere plodding domesticity that he immediately reintroduces in the stanza about Telemachus. The impatient tone and abrupt adjectives of the first stanza ("idle king," "still hearth," "barren crags," and so on) gave way to the more figurative language and heroic tone in the description of his feelings about his adventures, e.g., "when / Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades / Vexed the dim sea" (9-11). In the third stanza the adjectives alone ("slow," "mild," "soft," "useful," "good," "blameless," "common," "decent") demonstrate how radically the tone has altered as they not only portray an entirely different kind of man but tend to slow the reading down. The stanza ends with a sense of resolution as Ulysses firmly draws a distinction in "He works his work, I mine"."

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