Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tennyson takes the character of Ulysses from Homer and Dante and invests him with the passion for adventures. In Homer, Ulysses longs to go on voyaging again after returning from his adventures to the island of Ithaca. Homer's Ulysses is a great traveller and he is also a man of ready devices and inventions, a man of tact and resourcefulness. Dante's Ulysses goes through a series of adventures. He set out with a hand of trusted companions and reached the farthest point in the west and he persuaded his men to go beyond. But Tennyson's Ulysses is a symbol of aspiration for the unattainable and of restless spirit for knowledge and adventure. Tennyson makes him typical of some aspects of the Victorian age the energy and restless curiosity of its explorers, missionaries, soldiers and empire-builders. He represents the modern passion for knowledge, for the exploration of its limitless fields, for the annexation of the new kingdoms of science and thought. Victorian age was known for this passion for knowledge which is embodied in the research and discoveries of Charles Darwin and other scientists. It affirms the need of going forward and braving the struggle for life. Ulysses is not satisfied with the knowledge gained and experiences acquired; he feels the urge to go beyond the utmost bound of human thought. Thus he symbolises the Victorian temper of extending the frontiers of knowledge through discoveries of science, explorations of new territories, and extension of the empire. He represents the spirit of daring and restless adventure.

It is, however, not merely the knowledge that is his ideal. He is also a stem lover of action. He grows impatient of the petty duties that bind him to the rocky isle of Ithaca. The memory of the heroic doings on the windy plains of Troy and of the perilous voyages over the seas haunts his mind like dreams of joy, and this thirst of adventure grows keener. In spite of the infirmity of the old age he longs ardently to go forth on a new voyage with his own companions in search of unexplored shores and fresh adventures. He knows too well that life is short and the urge of activity becomes taxi. imperious within him.

Ulysses with his yearning for knowledge and urge for action represents to some extent the spirit of knowledge and action of the Victorian age he is an individual with his noble idealism and aspiration for a higher ampler life. The contrast with Telemachus who 'is centred in spheres is significant in this respect.


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