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Monday, 4 June 2018

Tennyson is the most complete and comprehensive representative of his age. Discuss.

Tennyson lived in age in which a change was taking place in every sphere of life. As a result of the Industrial Revolution economic condition of the people improved.  This improvement brought about a change in man's outlook.  All traditional values and ideals were considered from a new point of view. One group of people looked upon wealth as an end I'm itself . Another group adhered to the traditional values like wisdom , Justice,  truth patriotism,   public welfare etc . One group demanded equal right and status for women in social and economic life. Another group claimed for maintaining the traditional social order where women were considered inferior to men.
Victorian spirit in his poems
Alfred Tennyson 

In his poem the "Locksley Hall" the hero denounces the materialistic outlook of the people of his time . He was in love with a girl named Amy.  The girl had also great passion for him . But ultimately she surrendered to the threat of his parents and married a wealthy man.That is why the hero denounces his society for preferring wealth, power, and prestige , but overlooking the real spirit o"f man. He feels an urge to go to a country of the east . There he will live a life which is primitive , peaceful and more in keeping with the laws of nature . But he could not make up his mind to quit his country because he loves his country above everything else. Here we notice the young man has no revolutionary zeal. He will take things as they are . He concludes "better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay". A Victorian girl like Amy could not defy the authority of her parents. If she could do it would have been a challenge to authority , to order , to discipline.  The larger section of the Victorian people did not like it.  Tennyson was also of that group . Here he acts as their mouthpiece .

Victorian age was the age of new and newer invention and discovery . The conflict between religion and science had greatly persuaded the people to seek new knowledge . The desires to see the unseen , to know to unknown,  the unquenchable thirst for knowledge were the characteristics of the Victorian age . There is a reference to Odysseus in "The Lotos Eaters"who like a typical Victorian is fired with energy to grasp the unattainable and the infinite.  He is not eager to stay with the soldiers in the land of idleness.  Besides , the long for eternal life "Tithonus" and passion for beauty in "Oenone"are also the examples of Victorian temper.

Thus,  we see that Tennyson was aware of the social and religious problems of his time. He tried to give voice to them . But his approach was partial . In spite of these facts he was a true representative of his age in expressing the intellectual , social and religious problems of his time that were most striking and new.  The views he expressed were insular,  not universal.  As a result his fame survives mainly as a poetic artist,  not as a great thinker.

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