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    Tennyson as a Victorian Essay (1430 words)

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    The Victorian age was an age where many changes occurredsocially, economically, and industrially. People began to exploreinto areas such as the earth, the human body, and how to benefitthe daily lives of individuals.

    English literature was alsosomething that was beginning to be developed. Historically, it began when Queen Victoria was anointed to thethrown in 1837 and brought a new prosperity to England. She heldthe throne for 63 years which is the longest monarch to hold thethrown ever in English history. To many people, she was a symbolof stability and prosperity as evidenced by the following feelingfrom her people. The Victorian age has been said to be a verydiverse time. Historian T.

    B. Macaulay in 1838 said that theEnglish had become “the greatest and most highly civilized peoplethat ever the world saw. ” Yet, another man by the name of BenjaminDisraeli, who was a writer and a politician, disagreed with thisstatement and pointed out that the existence of an England of “twonations who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, andfeelings, as if they were . . .

    of different planets; who areformed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, areordered by different manners, and are not governed by the samelaws. ” He further says that “these two nations were the richestand poorest. ” It was a time when the rich were rich, and the poorpeople were poor. The poor or lower class of people went hungryand half naked throughout most of their lives. Life and death wenthand in hand; wealth and poverty stood side by side; repletion andstarvation laid them down together. Such rapid change in industry destroyed jobs as it providednew ones.

    The population shifted and left thousands housed inurban slums with bad water, no sanitation, and little food. Thedepression left whole factories unemployed, and with no means ofproducing goods. Yet, some people believed that the only way tocontrol population growth was through starvation or self-control. Men, women, and children accustomed to the community life of ruraltowns and farms to the varied and independent work habits of thefarm, and the small shop, found themselves laboring up to sixteenhours a day, six days a week, in factories without any governmentsafety regulations, and with very low pay.

    People were not knownas individuals only as “hands” with no control over their lives,hired, and fired at the whim of the owner or the fluctuation of themarket. There was no way to make a better life for oneself becauseyou were born into a certain social status, or you lived a life ofpoverty for the rest of your life or you were one of the privilegedclasses and were guaranteed the status of the royalty. The Victorian years also brought with them the increasingefforts to achieve political, social, and economic reforms thatwould change the structure of the country to meet the changescreated by industry. The Reform Bill was passed in 1832 whichincreased the electorate by fifty percent. The bill made itimpossible for workers and women to vote, therefore, only one infive Englishmen could vote.

    These men were generally from theupper class and they controlled everything. To many people, thiswas a light of hope that England would improve, but during the1840’s England saw the worst years of the century for unemployment,hunger, and disease. It brought radical working class agitationfor the People’s Chapter, which demanded universal male suffrageand a Parliament in which any man could serve. The effects ofthese problems prompted a series of bills to be passed.

    Parliamentrepealed some of the more unjust laws, and began to legislateshorter working hours, industrial safety, and urban sanitaryreform. Due to the economic prosperity, it reduced radicalagitation and in 1867 a second Reform Bill, which meant that mostworking men were allowed to vote. It brought a more liberal viewof what was needed in life. People’s thoughts and ideas also changed with the developmentof the country. The peoples’ ideas became more free and theyaccepted change more easily, yet not everybody wanted to admit tochange. People began to ask more questions about life, whichprompted the development of science and many people began toquestion the bible.

    Lyell’s Principles of Geology and Chamber’sVestiges of creation brought out the view publically that the earthwas older than the bible said it to be. People’s beliefs weresuddenly being shattered and the quest for answers was in need. The change caused a great deal of confusion and alarm, whichprompted English writers to accept responsibility and write aboutnew thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Alfred Tennyson, who is a very famous poet, is often regardedas the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry. Tennyson was a man who had seen pain and sorrow in his life.

    Afterthe death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam, Tennyson found relieffrom his pain in writing. Many of his writings were indeed abouthis dead friend. For example in “The Passing of Arthur, the herohas the same name as Tennyson’s friend and also many lyrical poems,that later were to become In Memorian A. H. H.

    These writing werefull of emotions, pain, fear, caring, and the desire to rememberhis friend. Almost throughout all of Tennyson’s work there werepain, sadness, fear, love, and hidden messages to be found, and hewas very romantic. He opened himself up to the world in a veryprivate way, and also to severe criticism by many people. In “TheLady of Shalott,”there is pain, frustration, and that of life as ajourney that leads to death. The poem is a way of showing howpeople are destined to certain fates in life and that they cannotescape their fate. Tennyson made people’s feelings real and morevocal.

    His writings, later in his life, were publicly admired andsought out. In 1842 he published another of his works called Poemswhich had two volumes, one containing a revised selection from thevolumes of 1830 and 1832, the other, new poems. The new poemsincluded “Morte d’ Arthur,” and “The Two Voices of Sin” and otherpoems that revealed a strange naive quality such as “The MayQueen,” “Lady Clara Vere de Vere,” and “The Lord of Burleigh. ” Thenew volume was not received well publically. But the grant to himat this time, by the prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, helped stophis worries in financial matters. In 1847 he published his firstlong poem, The Princess, a poem about anti-feminist fantasia.

    A man by the name of Edward Moxon offered to publish theelegies 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 successwith both reviewers and the public readers won him the friendshipof Queen Victoria, and helped bring about, in the same year, hisappointment as poet laureate. Tennyson’s ascendancy among Victorian poets began to bequestioned even during his lifetime. Many writers became jealousand rivals of Tennyson.

    And 20th-century criticism, influenced bythe rise of a new poetry headed by T. S. Eliot has proposed somedrastic new concepts of his work. Much of Tennyson that appealedto his readers has ceased to appeal many readers today. He can bepompous, arrogant, offering little more than shallow or confusedthoughts caused by a lot of pain. A more balanced estimate ofTennyson has begun to prevail, however, with the recognition of theenduring greatness of “Ulysses,” some of Tennyson’s best lyrics andabove all the stature of In Memoriam as the great representativepoem of the Victorian Age.

    It is now also recognized that therealistic and comic aspects of Tennyson’s work are more importantthan they were thought to be during the period of the reactionagainst him. Lord Alfred Tennyson also tried to be very dramatic in suchpoems as Queen Mary, but his success was only moderate. He onlyshowed signs of growing more frustrated and resentment at thereligious, moral, and political tendencies of the age. He hadalready caused a sensation by publishing a poem called “Despair. “It evoked a rush of pamphlets being published, and lectures andsermons. He shocked many people.

    Finally the perception of the poet’s awkward sense of themystery of life, which lies at the heart of his greatness, as in”Crossing the Bar’ or “Flower in the Cranied Wall,” unites hisadmirers in this century with those in the last. Though less ofTennyson’s work may survive than appeared likely during hisVictorian heyday, what does remain and it is by no means small inquality seems likely to vanish. In conclusion, the Victorian century was a era of change andconfusion. England improved itself for the people and it’sgovernment.

    The writers of the time were supposed to be indicativefor answering questions and for guidance. Lord Alfred Tennyson wasa man who changed the way people thought about literature andpoets. He has also influenced many writers of books, TV shows, andmovies in the plots of stories.————————————————————–

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