How does Tennyson bring mental pessimism and Victorian optimism in his use of myths and legends?

Essay by s_obaidullah2001University, Bachelor'sA, June 2004

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"And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night."

[Dover Beach: Mathew Arnold]

"The year is at the spring

And day is at the morn, …

God's in heaven,

All is right with world."

[Pippa Passes: Robert Browning]

These above quoted two quotations are from two renowned poets of Victorian arena show the contrast attitudes to their time. Browning is very optimistic of everything because he does not have any mental torment of his age. On the contrary Mathew Arnold is very critical of his age, which he has found barren and sterile dominated by materialistic views and so spiritually degenerated. But Tennyson is almost a mixture of Browning's and Arnold's feelings. In some of his poems he is very happy about everything in which he is passing his life and in some of his poems he is very melancholic about his surroundings.

These joys and sorrows are pre-dominated in him due to some of mental crises and the condition of the Victorian age in which he was.

Some of the greatest poems created by Tennyson are based on myths and legends. He possessed the talent of giving the myths and legends a very new look just to show how these poems adjust with the people and the crises of his time. These poems are - Ulysses, The Lotos Eaters, Tithonus, Oenone, Morte D'Arther etc.

Now we are to discuss these poems and observe closely the use of myths and legends

Homer's Odysseus or Tennyson's Ulysses is about to leave his island Kingdom of Ithaca and set out of a great adventure, because he is a man dissatisfied with his lot as a king. He regards his own role as 'idle king'; his wife...