Tennyson as a Victorian
The Victorian age was an age where many changes occurred socially, economically, and industrially. People began to explore into areas such as the earth, the human body, and how to benefit the daily lives of individuals. English literature was also something that was beginning to be developed. People’s thoughts and ideas also changed with the development of the country. The peoples’ ideas became more free and they accepted change more easily, yet not everybody wanted to admit to change. People began to ask more questions about life, which prompted the development of science and many people began to question the bible. The change caused a great deal of confusion and alarm, which prompted English writers to accept responsibility and write about new thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.
Alfred Tennyson, who is a very famous poet, is often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry. Tennyson was a man who had seen pain and sorrow in his life. After the death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam, Tennyson found relief from his pain in writing. Many of his writings were indeed about his dead friend. For example in “The Passing of Arthur, the hero has the same name as Tennyson’s friend and also many lyrical poems, that later were to become In Memorian A.H.H. These writing were full of emotions, pain, fear, caring, and the desire to remember his friend. Almost throughout all of Tennyson’s work there were pain, sadness, fear, love, and hidden messages to be found, and he was very romantic. He opened himself up to the world in a very private way, and also to severe criticism by many people. In “The Lady of Shalott,”there is pain, frustration, and that of life as a journey that leads to death. The poem is a way of showing how people are destined to certain fates in life and that they cannot escape their fate.
Tennyson made people’s feelings real and more vocal. His writings, later in his life, were publicly admired and sought out. In 1842 he published another of his works called “Poems” which had two volumes, one containing a revised selection from the volumes of 1830 and 1832, the other, new poems. The new poems included “Morte d’ Arthur,” and “The Two Voices of Sin” and other poems that revealed a strange naive quality such as “The May Queen,” “Lady Clara Vere de Vere,” and “The Lord of Burleigh.” The new volume was not received well publically. But the grant to him at this time, by the prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, helped stop his worries in financial matters. In 1847 he published his first long poem, The Princess, a poem about anti-feminist fantasia.
A man by the name of Edward Moxon offered to publish the elegies on Hallam that Tennyson had been composing over the years. To Tennyson this was a dream that he thought would never come true. At first they appeared anonymously, which helped with the success with both reviewers and the public readers won him the friendship of Queen Victoria, and helped bring about, in the same year, his appointment as poet laureate. Tennyson’s ascendancy among Victorian poets began to be questioned even during his lifetime. Many writers became jealous and rivals of Tennyson.
Much of Tennyson that appealed to his readers has ceased to appeal many readers today. He can be pompous, arrogant, offering little more than shallow or confused thoughts caused by a lot of pain. A more balanced estimate of Tennyson has begun to prevail, however, with the recognition of the enduring greatness of “Ulysses,” some of Tennyson’s best lyrics and above all the stature of In Memoriam as the great representative poem of the Victorian Age. It is now also recognized that the realistic and comic aspects of Tennyson’s work are more important than they were thought to be during the period of the reaction against him.
Lord Alfred Tennyson also tried to be very dramatic in such poems as Queen Mary, but his success was only moderate. He only showed signs of growing more frustrated and resentment at the religious, moral, and political tendencies of the age. He had already caused a