Sei sulla pagina 1di 4

Characteristics of characters in Tennyson's Ulysses

Posted Date: 25 Sep 2013 |Updated: 25-Sep-2013 |Category: General |Author:  Chakravarthi (Emperor) |

Member Level: Gold |Points: 60 |

This is the character analysis of different characters of Tennyson's Ulysses

which is a part of syllabus for Post Graduation of Acharya Nagarjuna
University, Andhra University and Kuppam University. This is useful in writing
questions and understanding the subject of the poem. The critical questions on
comparisons and similarities in characters can be written easily.

Character of Ulysses


Ulysses is idle in the kingdom of Ithaca. He has come to his kingdom after a long time. His
adventurous spirit is hungry since his arrival to his home land. Hi is so dissatisfied with the life of
Ithaca judging the people whom he does not know. The people of Ithaca are different when
compared with the mariners of him who came along with him to adventurous world. The
mariners are ready to give their lives for the adventures. But, these people are not like that.
They eat and sleep. They are not more civilized. But, Ulysses saw people who are civilized in
his journeys, met with different circumstances. Tennyson uses still hearth and barren crags
which represents the meaningless and empty life which Ulysses does not want to live in Ithaca.
He also thinks and refers his wife is aged too. At last he laments using "three suns" the time he
has stayed in Ithaca unnecessarily.

Perseverance for adventurous life

Ulysses words reveal his perseverance attitude towards his journey of adventures. He states
that he cannot take rest from travel. Actually, he has responsibility to guard his son and family
and pour out his experiences to rule Ithaca. But, there is huge difference of lives between him
and his son. The subjects are completely different. Hence, he wants to live his way. He does not
want to waste his life in this place but to drink his life to the lees which he wants to live his life
full in his liken manner. He is untamed spirit for his journeys and remembers the civilized
societies. He says that the remaining life should not be wasted and every added hour should
provide new knowledge and he starts his journey towards knowledge and in his way he does
not want to leave any opportunity.

Conscious of morality

Ulysses is aware that death is the final destiny of every man. That is why he says death closes
all. He uses the words to refer something is to be done before the death. He affirms that most of
life is over and he has only little life. In this life, he does not want to rust but to shine being put
into use. He uses eternal silence to depict the death and says every minute added should bring
new things.

Old Age feebleness

Ulysses is not only concerned with death but also old age hampers him in his way of exploration
and knowledge earning. He uses words like "gray spirit" in his speeches. He even says old age
has its honor and responsibilities and tries to be out of the old age melancholy and respects it
as it also has its honor. Later, in his quest of new world and gain of knowledge, he says there is
no strength in him like before. He says time and fate together have made their bodies feeble.
Yet he says he is strong in will and the will lead him to his destiny.

Exploration attitude

Ulysses is after exploration with hungry heart like hungry lion after his spending of three suns in
Ithaca. At last, he sets sail to explore the world. In this way, he remembers his explored world
previously. He has seen several cities and citizens of it, manners, councils, governments etc.
He has earned name and fame through his explorations. After setting sailing, he says he wants
to explore the untraveled world. He wants gather that knowledge as soon as possible in his
short life. That is why he wants to be as fast as to catch the sinking star. He begins his journey
in twilight and stars begin to appear in between the rocks. They may soon sink into baths as
assumed by Romans when day starts. Hence, he wants to grab those stars before they sink. He
hopes a newer world is waiting for his welcome. He does not like Ithaca. He wants to reach
happy isles at the end of his life. Thus his life wants to be ended in searching the newer world.
Enjoying valiancy

Ulysses remembers his young days. He has enjoyed in joining the Trojan War with his mates. In
the war he fought along with gods. Such valiancy is seen in his character. Such valiancy he
wants to continue. He does not want to o think he is old and feeble. He wants to be strong in his
will and wants to achieve such feat again. He once again reminds his mariners that they are the
humans who fought against to the will of gods in Trojan War. That spirit should be continued
and defy the oceans to reach the happy isles where he can meet Achilles who has fought in
Trojan war on the side of Ulysses and his mariners. He wants to drink his life to lees in such
activities. He remembers that he has enjoyed a lot and suffered losses in his journey. He uses
scudding drifts and rainy Hyades in his speech to describe the situation.

Seeker of knowledge

Ulysses is after knowledge. In his previous life before reaching his home land he has seen and
known many things. He has knowledge of few civilized cities, manners, climates of regions he
has seen, councils and governments. He says he is part of all he has met. He does not want to
get rusted but to shine in use. He declares even life after life is given, it is too little to know the
knowledge of newer and untraveled worlds. He still says whatever the life is left should bring a
new thing for every hour for him.

Telemachus, Penelope and Subjects of Ithaca

Even though this is all about Ulysses, he refers his son in his conversation. In his speech, he
says that his son is loved by him. He refers his son is blameless and prudent. He thinks Ithaca
people are not civilized. He hopes that his son brings these people to good behavior. He says
that it is the reason he is leaving his country to the hands of his son. He believes that he
respects and adores the gods. He says he is calm and does rule with patience. At last, he says
that he will do his work and his son has to do his work.

In Tennyson's Ulysses, nothing much revealed about Penelope. She is the wife of Ulysses and
mother of Telemachus. Only through words of Ulysses, it reveals that she is aged and futile to
stay in Ithaca.

The people of Ithaca are not civilized. They have Telemachus as their king who is the son of
Ulysses. In the words of Ulysses, the people care rugged and savage race. They are interested
in eating and sleeping. They are not like Ulysses mariners who crave for adventures.
Mariners of Ulysses

These are the mates of Ulysses in the journey of explorations and war. There are dead and
alive mariners. Few of his mates are dead. The dead mates have participated in Trojan War and
defied the will of gods who took turns to fight. They are brave and risked their lives for the sake
of Ulysses. Now before setting the travel goes, he is addressing the mariners who are beside
him remembering their might in their young age. He says that they have toiled and stood on one
word and even in difficult times, they have not left him. They have faced dangers as brave men.
But, he remembers that now they are old and not as strong as in their youth who have shaken
the earth and heaven. He remembers not to forget their achievements. The mates with him
have same qualities as their king has. They are also valiant, thrust for knowledge. That is the
reason Ulysses begins to declare the importance of voyage they are going for. He says there
may be whirlpools which may devour them or they may reach the western horizon or baths
where stars sink. The journey may reach them happy isles where they can meet Achilles.
Achilles has fought in Trojan War along with these warriors. Ulysses and other mates of him
knew him very well. He inculcates strong will in his mariners that even they are old, they will not
step back to strive and to find. They will not yield to any circumstances.