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Ulysses Paper Qualities of a True Hero Thesis: Tennyson emphasizes two heroic qualities, curiosity and endurance, through

poetic devices in his poem, Ulysses.


Alfred Lord Tennyson uses poetic devices in his poem Ulysses, to enhance the aspect of endurance that is prevalent throughout his work. One way he shows this endurance is through allusions to the Trojan War. For example, when Ulysses is speaking about his fighting in the Trojan War, he says, And drunk delight of battle with my peers, /Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy (Tennyson 16-17). This quote shows that Ulysses fought in the Trojan War and how soldiers had very difficult lives and were pushed to their limits. This means that if Ulysses was in the war and fighting with drunk delight, he would have needed extreme amounts of strength, bravery and especially endurance. Tennyson not only expresses endurance through the allusion to the Trojan War, but also with his allusion to the Hyades of ancient Greek mythology. For instance, when Ulysses is referring to his great journeys on the sea, he states, All times I have enjoyed/ Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those/ That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when/ Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades/ Vext the dim sea (7-11). This example alludes to the Hyades of mythology and the treacherous rainstorms that were part of their Greek myth. The grieving Hyades mourn their sisters death and cry torrential downpours onto the Earth. This passage suggests that Ulysses and his crews had fought through these great storms and survived; this is proof of their enormous amounts of endurance. Thus by allusions to both the Hyades and the Trojan War, Tennyson has emphasized the quality of endurance in his poem, Ulysses. In Ulysses, Alfred Tennyson enhances the factor of curiosity through his use of both personification and simile. One way he expresses this curiosity is through his use of personification. An example of this personification occurs when Ulysses is talking about his old adventures before he returned to his home of Ithaca, when he says, For always roaming with a hungry heart/ Much have I

seen and known (Tennyson 12-13). This quote shows that Ulysses heart is personified to be hungry and a sign that he is seeking to satisfy his need for adventure. This need for adventure can then be interpreted as a gnawing curiosity eating at Ulysses; a curiosity that he wants to sate. Tennyson also uses similes about knowledge to express a sense of curiosity in his poem. An instance of this is when Ulysses speaks of his never-ending voyage, where he states, And this gray spirit yearning in desire/ To follow knowledge like a sinking star (30-31). This example of a simile shows that Ulysses would follow knowledge like a sinking star, meaning that he would go to the ends of the Earth in search of a way to quench his desire for knowledge. The falling star simile also expresses the sense of curiosity and yearning for knowledge because a shooting star seems to travel thousands of miles before disappearing forever. In the poem, Ulysses intends to travel thousands of miles and travel into nonexistence for his search for knowledge rooted from his everlasting curiosity. From similes of falling stars to personification of hearts, Tennyson has found ways to express the feeling of curiosity in his poem, Ulysses. Conclusion: Thus, Alfred Lord Tennysons use of poetic devices in his poem Ulysses has emphasized the heroic qualities of endurance and curiosity.

Works Cited Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Poems: Ulysses. Somersby, Lincolnshire: Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1842. Print.