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Tennyson, Browning, Arnold

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1 Tennyson, Browning, Arnold
ENGL 203 Dr. Fike

2 A Unit All three are dramatic monologues, a form invented in the Victorian period (next two slides). All three illustrate the Victorian age: “Ulysses”: Victorian man—infinite striving (related to the development of technology and science). The poet’s relationship to society. “My Last Duchess”: Should art involve life-like images? “Dover Beach”: Crisis of faith because of evolution and biblical criticism. Alienation from nature, people, God. Therefore, the importance of human love.

3 Dramatic Monologue Source: Robert Langbaum’s The Poetry of Experience: The Dramatic Monologue in the Modern Literary Tradition (1957).

4 Characteristics of the Dramatic Monologue
Speaker: There is a single speaker, not the poet, speaks at a critical moment of stress or emotion (NOT “emotion recollected in tranquility”). Listener: The dramatic monologue is like hearing one end of a telephone conversation: we know about the listener only via what the speaker says about him or her (vs. a soliloquy in which a character speaks to the theater audience). Self-revelation, lack of complete control: The speaker is probably unaware that he is not presenting a totally positive view of himself. Gratuitous utterance: The business of the poem is brief, but the speaker goes on and on.

5 Example of Soliloquy Hal’s speech in King Henry IV, Part I : he likens himself to the sun and indicates that his presence in the tavern is calculated. He is totally aware and in control of his meaning. No characters overhear him. The statement is designed so that the audience can know his true thoughts.

6 Example of Gratuity See the beginning of “Fra Lippo Lippi,” lines 1-18 (page 1295/509). The same thing happens in “Duchess.”

7 Fra Lippo on Art The poem relates to a debate about art that is relevant to the Victorian period. Line 188: “Give us no more of body than shows soul!” vs. Line 268: “The value and significance of flesh” A good response paper could be written about this contrast.

8 Important Fact about Tennyson
Two major ideas: Tennyson, like other Victorian poets, was concerned with the poet’s relationship to society. The death of his friend, Arthur Hallam, profoundly affected his art. Hallam’s death occurred in 1833 (age 22): Hallam had encouraged T as would a muse. After his death, he became the subject of many of T’s poems.

9 Example: “Morte d’Arthur”
Tennyson:Hallam::Bedivere:Arthur Tennyson/Bedivere was left behind by Hallam/Arthur. See lines 13-17: Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: “The sequel of today unsolders all The goodliest fellowship of famous knights Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep They sleep—the men I loved.” Hallam, like Arthur, died with a sense of unfilled potential (public service vs. the destruction of the Round Table). Plus a great sense of loss.

10 What Hallam Might Say “Morte d’Arthur,” lines 247-53:
More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice Rise like a fountain for me night and day. For what are men better than sheep or goats That nourish a blind life within the brain, If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer Both for themselves and those who call them friend?

11 “Ulysses” and Hallam’s Death
Note the similarity: Ulysses had lost all of his original companions. Ulysses speculates about seeing Achilles/Hallam: “It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, / And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. / Though much is taken, much abides….”

12 What Tennyson’s Son Said
“‘Ulysses,’ my father said, ‘was written soon after Arthur Hallam’s death, and gave my feeling about the need of going forward, and braving the struggle of life perhaps more simply than anything in In Memoriam.’” Source: Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir By His Son 1:196.

13 How a Victorian Poet Writes about Art
What images do you find in “The Lady of Shalott”? What do they represent?

14 WIC: “The Lady of Shalott”
The poem gives you a good picture of how a Victorian poet wrote about art: Lady = Loom/magic web = Mirror = Curse = River = Camelot = Shalott =

15 “The Lady of Shalott” The poem gives you a good picture of how a Victorian poet wrote about art: Lady = poet Loom/magic web = art Mirror = poetic imagination Curse = the sensibility that commits her to a vicarious life River = mutability (cf. the lily, the wind, the change of season) Camelot = the seat of worldly activity, heroic glory, and human commerce Shalott = remote island with a wall and a garden (features that Tennyson associates with the secluded and idyllic life of art).

16 Spenser, The Faerie Queene III.ii.19: Merlin’s “looking glasse” (18)
It vertue had, to shew in perfect sight What ever thing was in the world contaynd, Betwixt the lowest earth and heavens hight, So that it to the looker appertaynd; What ever foe had wrought, or frend had faynd, Therein discovered was, ne ought mote pas, Ne ought in secret from the same remaynd; For thy it round and hollow shapèd was, Like to the world it selfe, and seemed a world of glas.

17 Points about “The Lady of Shalott”
The emptiness of the life of fancy when it is divorced from the real world. Imagination must connect with the world. Poets create their own worlds, on the one hand; however, on the other, the outside world brings death (understand it this way: critics are cruel). The poem is an allegory of art: art and the world are not incompatible, but the lady must die in order to become fully beautiful. “She has a beautiful face,” says Launcelot. Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning”: “Death is the mother of beauty, hence from her / Alone, shall come fulfillment of our dreams.”

18 Questions on “Ulysses”
Why does Tennyson call the poem "Ulysses" instead of "Odysseus"? How does the poem relate to Dante's Inferno, Canto 26? How does the poem relate to Milton's Paradise Lost, I.105-9? In what way is Ulysses a typical Victorian man? How are Achilles and Telemachos parallel to Tennyson's late friend Arthur Hallam? Do you view Ulysses as positive, negative, or some combination of both? How do you read the lines "Yet all experience is an arch where through / Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades / For ever and for ever when I move"?  Is this an image of purposeful imagination or of futility? Cat Stevens:

19 Important Background on “Ulysses”
Ulysses is the Roman name (Tennyson may have had England’s Roman roots in mind; remember—he was poet laureate). Dante puts Ulysses in hell (Inferno 26). “It may be that the gulfs will wash us down,” says Tennyson’s Ulysses. This is precisely what Dante’s Ulysses reports—his ship goes down in a storm. Ulysses sounds Satanic at line 70: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”: All is not lost; the unconquerable Will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield; And what is else not to be overcome? PL

20 Group Activity/Whole Class
Five groups, divided the usual way: 1: “My Last Duchess” 2: “Porphyria’s Lover” 3: “Dover Beach” and “The Dover Bitch”

21 Questions on “My Last Duchess”
What is the dramatic situation in the poem?  What is happening? What do we know about the duchess? What is the overall structure of the poem?  In other words, how might you divide it into sections. What does the poem say about art? What technical things reinforce the meaning of the poem? Form Loaded words (see lines 6, 19, 50, and 53) Why does the duke conclude with the image of Neptune taming a seahorse? How is "My Last Duchess" parallel to "Porphyria's Lover"?

22 Form and Meaning Heroic couplets: rhymed iambic pentameter; the Duke fancies himself to be a heroic figure. Enjambment reflects his energy and makes it hard to realize that the poem is written in couplets (very few end stops). Accents in line 33 indicate the Duke’s anger: “My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name.” The syntax alters in lines 30-42: the use of dashes indicates the Duke’s agitation, which contrasts with the more measured syntax one finds at the opening and ending. He is remembering a living woman whom he could not control. Juxtaposition in lines 46-47: “Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands / As if alive” (see next slide).

23 DeVane, Browning Handbook 190
“When Browning was questioned by Professor Hiram Corson on the meaning of the lines ‘I gave commands; [/] Then all smiles stopped together,’ the poet said that ‘the commands were that she should be put to death,…or he might have had her shut up in a convent.”

24 Loaded Words Line 6: “design” Line 19: “dies” Line 50: “pretense”
Line 53: “object” It may be that the Duke’s word choice conveys more about his intentions than he realizes.

25 Questions on “Dover Beach”
What is the poem's setting? What does Arnold say about the sea? How does he connect the sea at Dover to the Sea of Faith? According to this poem, what is the solution to alienation? Is "Dover Beach" similar or different from the following poem by Yeats (next slide)? How is "Dover Beach" similar to "Tintern Abbey"? Is "Dover Beach" a Greater Romantic Lyric? In "The Dover Bitch," what is the speaker's criticism of Arnold?  Is it a fair one?

26 W.B. Yeats (1933) The Nineteenth Century and After
Though the great song return no more There's keen delight in what we have: The rattle of pebbles on the shore Under the receding wave. Note: A sense of loss in the first line. Lines 2-4: But the sea is a source of “delight” and a reminder of what remains. In Arnold’s poem, however, the sea evokes sadness.

27 “Dover Beach” and “Tintern Abbey”
What do these poems have in common?

28 “Dover Beach” and “Tintern Abbey”
Both poems are addressed to women and affirm the importance of human solidarity. Both poets hear “the still sad music of humanity.” Both feel a sense of loss. Both are aware of change. For both, nature is an emblem of what has receded or will soon recede END

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