A Critical Analysis of Alfred Tennyson's "In Memoriam A.H.H."

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

download word file, 18 pages 3.7 2 reviews

Downloaded 140 times

During the Victorian Period, long held and comfortable religious

beliefs fell under great scrutiny. An early blow to these beliefs came

from the Utilitarian, followers of Jeremy Bantam, in the form of a test

by reason of many of the long-standing institutions of England,

including the church. When seen through the eyes of reason, religion

became "merely an outmoded superstition" (Ford & Christ 896). If this

were not enough for the faithful to contend with, the torch of doubt was

soon passed to the scientists. Geologists were publishing the results

of their studies which concluded that the Earth was far older than the

biblical accounts would have it (Ford & Christ 897). Astronomers were

extending humanity's knowledge of stellar distances, and Natural

Historians such as Charles Darwin were swiftly building theories of

evolution that defied the Old Testament version of creation (Ford &

Christ 897). God seemed to be dissolving before a panicked England's

very eyes, replaced by the vision of a cold, mechanistic universe that

cared little for our existence.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson was painfully aware of the implications of

such a universe, and he struggled with his own doubts about the

existence of God. We glimpse much of his struggles in the poem In

Memorial A. H. H., written in memory of his deceased friend, Arthur

Hallam. The poem seemed to be cathartic for Tennyson, for through its

writing he not only found an outlet for his grief over Hallam's death,

but also managed to regain the faith which seemed at times to have

abandoned him. Tennyson regained and firmly reestablished his faith

through the formation of the idea that God is reconciled with the

mechanistic universe through a divine plan of evolution, with Hallam as

the potential link to a greater race of humans yet to come.