Summary

Futility By Wilfred Owen

Futility By Wilfred Owen War Poem Analysis

Introduction

About Poet

Themes Wilfred Owen’s Poem

About The Title of The “Futility” Poem

Analysis Of The Poem

Conclusion

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Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels By Jonathan Swift Part 1

Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift

Introduction

            The Book “Gulliver’s Travels” was written by Johnathan Swift, who is known as a great Anglo Irish Satirist, essayist, and poet of English Literature. The full title of ‘Gulliver’s Travel’ is ‘Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World’ and it was first published in 1726. The protagonist of this novel is ‘Lemuel Gulliver’ and the whole story of this novel moves around him. It is Swift’s best full-length work. Swift claimed that he wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travel’ to vex the world rather than divert it.

The novel is written in Four Parts.

  1. A Voyage to Lilliput
  2. A Voyage to Brobdingnag
  3. A Voyage to Laputa
  4. A Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnms

About The Author “Jonathan Swift”

            “Jonathan Swift” the author of Gulliver’s Travels was an Anglo-Irish Satirist, political pamphleteer, essayist, and poet. He is remembered for works such as – A Tale of Tub, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Gulliver’s Travel, and A Modest Proposal. Swift is regarded as the greatest prose satirist in the history of English Literature.

            The Book “Gulliver’s Travels” was an immediate success. The English dramatist ‘John Gay’ remarked ‘It is universally red from the Cabinet council to the nursery.

Themes In Gulliver’s Travels

            The main themes in Gulliver’s Travels are – Hypocrisy, The Dangers of arrogance and excessive pride, the human condition, and Social and Political issues.

Hypocrisy

            One of the most important themes in Gulliver’s Travels is that of Hypocrisy. Throughout the novel, Swift criticizes the various groups of people that Gulliver meets for their hypocrisy. For example, he condemns the politicians of Lilliput for their lies and manipulation, and the scientist of Laputa for their disregard for the well-being of other people.

Dangers of Arrogance and Excessive Pride

            Another important theme in Gulliver’s Travels is that of The dangers of arrogance and excessive pride. Swift satirizes this theme by showing how the Characters in Gulliver’s travels who are the most proud are also the ones who are harmed the most. The Laputans, for example, are highly arrogant people who think they are superior to everyone else. As a result, they are completely blind to the dangers of their own actions, and they end up being destroyed by a storm.

Human Condition, and Social and Political Issues

            Gulliver’s Travels is also an exploration of the different ways that societies can be structured. Swift uses Gulliver’s Travels to satirize the various political and social systems that he encounters. For example, the government of Lilliput is a monarchy, while the government of Blefuscu is a republic. Swift also criticizes, the social hierarchy treated like gods and the common people are treated like slaves.

            Gulliver’s Travels is full of Swift’s clever irony and biting satire. Gulliver functions as a mouthpiece for Swift, allowing the author to voice his opinions on various political and social issues of his period. Swift criticizes the way that society can be hypocritical and unjust. He also satirizes the ways in which people are willing to blindly follow the conventions of their society, even if these conventions are harmful or wrong. In the novel, Swift also gives a glimpse of his view on humanity. In general Swift seems to believe that humans are inherently corrupt and selfish.

            Thus, the themes of “Gulliver’s Travels” are important because they allow us to better understand the Author’s message and the motivation behind the work. In “Gulliver’s Travel” Swift uses satire to criticize various aspects of English society. By exploring the themes in Gulliver’s Travels, we can gain a better understanding of Swift’s views on society, humanity, and the human condition.

Gulliver’s Travels Part – 1 

Gulliver’s Travels Part – 1 has a total of 8 Chapters.

Chapter – 1

            The novel begins with Lemuel Gulliver recounting the story of his life. He was born to a family in Nottinghamshire, the third of five sons. He is sent to London to be a surgeon’s apprentice, during which time he also learns about navigation and Mathematics. Afterward, Gulliver married Mrs. Mary Burton and began his life as a Surgeon. When his business begins to fail, he takes a six-year trip to sea, where he serves as the surgeon to two ships and travels the East and West Indies. He spends much of his time on these voyages observing the people and learning their language.

            Although he has planned to return home at the end of this time, he decides to accept one last job on a ship called Antelope. In the East Indies, the ship encounters a violent storm in which twelve crewmen die. Six of the crewmembers, including Gulliver, board a small row boat to escape. Soon the rowboat capsizes. Gulliver however swims safely to shore.

Gulliver lies down on the grass to rest and soon he falls asleep. When he wakes up, he finds that his arms, legs, and hair have been tied. He feels something move across her legs and over his chest. He looks like a six-inch-tall human carrying a bow and arrow. At least forty little people climb onto his body. He is surprised and shouts loudly frightening the little people.

            Gulliver loosens the ropes and indicates that he is hungry, and the little people bring him baskets of meat. He devours it all and shows that he is thirsty, so they bring two large barrels of wine. Gulliver has made them a promise of goodwill and is grateful for their hospitality. When he falls asleep, the Lilliputians transport Gulliver to the capital. They use a large platform with twenty-two wheels pulled by dozens of four-and-a-half-inch horses. More than one hundred thousand Lilliputians come out to see Gulliver.

Chapter -2

            The emperor of Lilliput comes to visit Gulliver. The two attempt to converse, though they cannot understand each other’s language. After two weeks, a bed is made for Gulliver. It consists of 600 small beds sewn together. News of his arrival spreads throughout the kingdom and curious people come to see him. The emperor arranged to deliver a large amount of food to Gulliver every morning, hire tailors to make his clothing, and offer teachers to instruct him in their language.

            Every morning Gulliver asks the emperor to set him free, but the emperor refuses, saying that Gulliver must be patient. The emperor also orders him to be searched to ensure that he does not have any weapons. Gulliver agrees to this search, all of his weapons are taken away.

Chapter – 3

            The Lilliputians begin to like and trust Gulliver. Gulliver is granted his freedom, but he has to follow certain conditions, including the following – he is forbidden to leave the island without permission, he must be an ally to the Lilliputians in wars, and he must help with construction projects.

Chapter – 4

            Gulliver visits the Lilliputian capital city of Mildendo and the emperor’s palace. Reldresal, an official in the Lilliputian government tells Gulliver about religious and political division. He also tells Gulliver about his enemies – the Kingdom of Blefuscu. Gulliver agrees to help defend Lilliput against their enemies. He honours his promise to defend Lilliput from a Blefuscu attack.

Chapter – 5

            Three weeks later Lilliput makes a peace treaty with Blefuscu and Gulliver asks the emperor for permission to visit Blefuscu in the future. The emperor agrees but remains cold toward Gulliver. A fire breaks out in the empress’s apartment. Gulliver extinguishes the fire by relieving himself in the building. This disgusts the empress, as public urination is illegal in Lilliput. She vows revenge on Gulliver.

Chapter – 6

            Gulliver is invited to have dinner with the emperor. Flimnap, the royal treasurer, also attends the dinner. Flimnap dislikes Gulliver and complains that feeding and housing Gulliver is bankrupting the kingdom.

Chapter – 7

            A government official tells Gulliver that members of the council, including Flimnap, have charged Gulliver with treason. The Charges include public urination, refusing to destroy Blefuscu, and aiding the emperor of Blefuscu. Gulliver learn his sentence will be carried out three days. He leaves Lilliput for Blefuscu, where its people welcome him.

Chapter – 8

            After three days, Gulliver receives orders to return to Lilliput for his punishment, but Gulliver decides to leave for home. He takes with him food, drink, and some tiny animals from Blefuscu. After two days at sea, he was picked up by a British vessel and returned to his family in England.

Conclusion

            Thus, “Gulliver’s Travels” is a story about the human condition, and how human struggles with their own weakness. Swift makes it clear that there is no one right way to do things and no perfect solution to life’s problems. This story is an indictment of man’s vanity and his struggles to find order in a Chaotic World. Swift also uses Gulliver’s Travels as a way to comment on the social and political issues of his time.

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Theatre Of The Absurd

Theatre Of The Absurd “Absurdist”

Theatre Of The Absurd
Theatre Of The Absurd

Introduction

            The term “Theatre of The Absurd” was first derived by Albert Camus in an essay, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) in which he derived the philosophy of the absurd. According to Camus, this philosophy says,

“Mom is trying to pursue the
 meaning of life and this
 pursuance has no meaning
 in its own. So the men
 quest for the existence and
 to derive meaning for life is
 meaningless and is of no use.”

            Later in 1961, this term was coined by “Martin Esslin” in his book “Theatre of Absurd”. It is a literary movement that began with a group of dramatists around the 1950s and continued till the 1980s. It was the death of Samuel Beckett in 1989 that marked the end of this movement. This literary movement spread across America and Other European countries during the 1950s to 1960s. It is the movement that simply expresses the thought of human existence that has no meaning or purpose. In it, the playwright also discussed the changed behavior of human beings which they saw in their surroundings, because of the impact of World War II.

Definition Of The Theatre of the Absurd

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as,

“Theatre that seeks to represent
 the absurdity of human existence
 in a meaningless universe by
 bizarre or fantastic means.”

History Of The Theatre of The Absurd

            This movement influenced by existentialism, began in the form of experimental theatre in Paris and consequently, the spread of the absurd form in other countries. Absurdist plays were written in French. Absurd elements first came into existence after the rise of Greek Drama in the plays of ‘Aristophanes’ in the form of Wild humor and buffoonery of the old comedy.

            Then, morality plays of the Middle Ages can also be called a precursor of ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’. In 19th century. Ibsen and Strindberg also included some elements of absurd theatre in their plays, but the real precursor of the present Theatre of Absurd is ‘Alfred Jerry’s play ‘Ubu Roi’.

            World War II finally brought the Theatre of Absurd to life because the Chaotic atmosphere during that time was compelling them to think about their absurd existence.

Features & Characteristics of the Theatre of the Absurd

  • Absence of a real story or plot.
  • No action since all actions are insignificant.
  • The value of language is reduced, in fact, what happens on the stage transcends and often contradicts, the words spoken by the characters.
  • Extensive use of pauses, silences, miming, and absurd situations reflect a sense of anguish.
  • Incoherent babbling makes up the dialogue.

Characteristics and Features in Detail

            Following are the chief characteristics of the Theatre of Absurd, but all these characteristic cannot necessarily be found in all the absurdist play because it is not necessary that the playwright must have used all the characteristic of Absurd plays:

1. Questions of Existence

                        Absurd plays raise some basic questions of existence like why we are alive, why we have to die, and why there is injustice and suffering.

2. Distrust In Language

                        For the absurdist playwrights, language is only a meaningless communication and stereotyped exchange of Ideas because words fail to express the essence of human existence.

3. Illogical Speeches and Meaningless Plots

                              Through illogical speeches and meaningless plots, they wish to establish a feeling of freedom to make their own words. Dr. Culik Says,

“Rationalist thought, like language,
 Only deals with the superficial
 aspects of things, Nonsense,
 On the other hand, opens up a
 glimpse of the infinite.”

4. Re-establishment of Man’s communion with the Universe

                        They attempt to restore the importance of myth and rituals in the life of man and make them aware of the ultimate realities of their life.

5. Emphasis on Abstract values of Life

                        Absurdists force us to look at our abstract values of life like love and family. Thus, we may hope to accept the absurdity of life and try to find values in a world devoid of them.

6. Vagueness about Time, Place, and Character

                        Absurdists have no time, place, or character in their plays as they feel that there is no past or future, only the repetition of the present.

7. Lack Of communication Amid Characters

                        Each character lives an egoistic life and attempts to get another character to understand him which results in more alienation.

Playwright of Absurd Drama

            Martin Esslin considered four playwrights: – Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, and Jean Genet as leaders of the movement. After some time, ‘Harold Pinter’ was also introduced to this group, as some of the works of Albert Camus, and Edward Albee.

Samuel Beckett

            Beckett is an Irish dramatist and novelist, who came from an ‘Anglo-Irish’ Protestant family. Beckett uses formless language deliberately to present the absurdity in his work. Some of his highly popularised fiction novels, originally written in French, Scored success are ‘Murphy’. ‘Molloy’ and ‘Watt’ which also follow his story “More Pricks than Kicks”.

            His masterpiece in drama is ‘Waiting For Godot’ which is the English version of the French Play En Attendant Godot’. Beckett also wrote a ‘monologue’. “Krapp’s Last Tape” in which Krapp attempts to recapture the greatness of earlier days by listening to recordings of days when she was young.

Eugene Ionesco

            Ionesco is a Rumanian – French dramatist, write in French. Eugene Ionesco is a central figure in this genre and the foremost figure of the French Avant-Grade Theatre. His plays basically focus on criticizing the meaningless existence of human beings while offering a subtle solution to change this situation. In Rhinoceros, Ionesco tries to build hope at the end of the play by making Berenger, the protagonist, stick to his human self and not follow the mass movement.

            His famous works are ‘The Bald Prima’, ‘The Lesson’, ‘The Chair’ an absurdist tragic force, ‘The Killer’, ‘Rhinoceros’, ‘The Victim of Duty’, ‘How to Ged Rid of It’, and ‘Macbeth’ written during the cold war. The Chairs and The Lesson are the most notable works of Ionesco.

Arthur Adamov

            He was a Russian-born dramatist who lived in France and wrote in French Adamov wrote an autobiographical volume L’Avew, where he for the first expressed the deep sense of alienation, one of the significant features of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’.

            Some of his famous plays are ‘La Paradise’, ‘Professor Taranne’, ‘Le Ping-Pong’, and ‘Printemps 71’.

Jean Genet

            A famous French novelist, dramatist, and poet. Genet’s contribution can be classified both as an Absurd dramatist and as a follower of Art and in his ritualistic ‘Theatre Of Cruelty’.

            His very famous plays are “Deathwatch”, “The Maids”, “The Balcony”, and “The Screens.”

Harold Pinter

            Pinter was a great English Playwright screenwriter, Director, Actor, and a Novel Prize winner for literature in 2005. Harold Pinter became the most influential modern British dramatist. His writing career continued for more than 50 years. His early works were described by critics as “Comedy of Menace”.

            His first full-length play was ‘The Birthday Party (1958)’, which ran for three nights in London. It later made a strong impression on Television and was successfully re-staged in 1964.

            Printer’s other most famous works are “The Room”, “The Homecoming”, and “Betray.”

Some of his one-act plays are ‘The Dumb Waiter’, ‘A Slight Ache’, ‘The Collection, and The Lover’ which have been produced in the theatre.

Albert Camus

            Camus was an Algerian and French philosopher. He was the youngest writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 in Literature. His philosophical work came out as absurdism. His essay ‘The Rebel’ which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially in Western Europe.

            ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) an essay by Camus, where he described meaningless things happening around him through the concept of ‘absurdism’ and this absurdist concept was first time seen in his work.

Edward Albee

            Edward Albee is an American playwright related to the theatre of the Absurd. He is known for his works written as one-act plays such as ‘As Zoo Story’, ‘The Sandbox’, and ‘The American Dream’. His first full-length play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

            He won the Pulitzer Prize for three works – ‘A Delicate Balance’, ‘Three Tall Women’, and ‘Seascape’, written in the form of Drama.

            Besides these, other playwrights like ‘Tom Stoppard’, ‘Arthur Kopit’, ‘Friedrich Durrenmatt’, ‘Fernando Arrabal’, ‘N. E. Simpson’, and also many dramatists associated with this theatre.

Conclusion

            Thus, the Absurdist play or The Theatre of Absurd only demonstrates the absurdity and illogicality of the world in which we live but does not provide any solution to the problem. Through these plays, man is again and again reminded that his existence in the world is in fact absurd and meaningless.

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Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw

Man and Superman Themes, Summary & Analysis G. B. Shaw

Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw
Man And Superman By G. B. Shaw

Introduction

“Man and Superman” by George Bernard Shaw is regarded as a philosophical play due to its exploration of several philosophical themes. It was first published in 1903. The play is subtitled “A Comedy and a Philosophy” and it reflects Shaw’s views on a wide range of topics, especially on the hypocrisy of Victorian society. It is a four-act play.

The first performance of Man and Superman in 1905 at the Royal Court Theatre in London, did not include the third act. Though subsequent productions have typically omitted the scene, “Don Juan in Hell”, it’s often performed as a separate play. ‘Eric Bentle’ a birth born American theatre critic & playwright called Man and Superman:

“The Supreme triumph of Shaw’s dramaturgical dialects.”

Character of the play

Roebuck Ramsden

Ramsden is a middle-aged gentleman who considers himself as an intellectual pioneer and a progressive thinker.

Octavius Robinson

Octavius is a young, orphaned bachelor in the social circle of the social circle of Ramsdens, the Whitefield, and Jack Tanner.

Ann Whitefield

Ann is the older daughter of Mr. Whitefield, She is based on the Character of Dona Ana.

Jack/ John Tanner

Jack Tanner, a left-wing thinker and author of the book The Revolutionist’s Handbook, is one of the men left in charge of Ann Whitefield after her death.

Violet Robinson

Violet is the sister of Octavius. She becomes pregnant at the beginning of the play and is secretly married to Hector Malone.

Henry Straker, Mendoza, Hector Malone Jr., Hector Malone Sr., Mrs. Whitefield, and Susan Ramsden are more characters, which is present in the play.

About G. B. Shaw

George Bernard Shaw, commonly known as G. B. Shaw was an Irish playwright, Critic, and political activist. After unsuccessful attempts at novel writing, Shaw turned to drama. He wrote over sixty plays in the course of his life, including – “Man and Superman”, Pygmalion, and Saint Joan. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1925. Shaw’s golden period as a dramatist was from 1903 to 1925, the time when he wrote his best and most famous play. Arthun Bingham Walkey praised Shaw as,

“A man who gives us a refined intellectual pleasure.”

Man and Superman as a Comedy or Philosophy

In the sub-title of the play, Shaw himself calls Man and Superman a comedy and a philosophy. We may designate the drama as a biological comedy with spiritual overtones. The central theme of the play is Shaw’s anthropologic myth that woman is the primary mover in the evolutionary process. In Act I, II, and IV we find the ruthless pursuit of Tanner by Ann that constitutes the comedy of the drama. The play is a rich storehouse of Shavian thoughts, but this thought content is treated in the vein of the most light-hearted comedy.

The play contains Shaw’s view on everyday subjects. He expressed his views on love, women, marriage, Sex-relationship, socialism, democracy, etc. In fact, the play is Shaw’s finest statement of his idea of a life force. Shaw’s life force is a spiritual power in the universe. Don Juan says in the play.

“Life is a force which has made innumerable
 experiments in organizing itself.”

            Shavian Don Juan is the spokesman of Shaw himself in the play. He is a philosophic man with intellect. In conversation with the statue Don Juan says:
“……….. to life, the force behind the Man,
Intellect is a necessity, because without
it he blunders into death.”

            On women, in the play, Shaw’s comment is that a woman is not a Poet’s dream. She has to play an important role in the evolutionary process. Shaw thinks that biologically woman is primary and non-secondary in the process of keeping the human race running.

            All the philosophical implications of the play have been illustrated through the story of Tanner and Ann with utmost levity and this makes the play comedy as well. Ann Whitefield is a vital genius, Tanner, on the other hand, is a man who does not tolerate women’s company. Tanner avoids Ann and regards her company as dangerous, Ann. On the other side, considers Tanner as “Biologically” preferable.

            Thus, we may say that Shaw is logically right to call “Man and Superman” a comedy and a philosophy. Shaw, in the play, expressed his philosophical views on serious subjects but the way he has gone is comical.

Themes of “Man and Superman”

            The themes of Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw are:

The conflict between man and Woman

            Shaw believed that men and women are fundamentally different creatures, with different goals and desires. In ‘Man and Superman’, this conflict is embodied in the characters of John Tanner and Ann Whitefield. Tanner is a brilliant but impractical idealist, while Ann is a ruthless social climber. Their relationship is a battle of wills, with each trying to manipulate the other to get what they want.

The Nature of the Superman

            Superman is Shaw’s ideal of a human being, someone who is intellectually and morally superior to the rest of humanity. Superman is someone who has achieved self-mastery to their own values, regardless of what society expects of them.

The importance of free will

            Shaw believed that humans have the power to choose their own destiny. In ‘Man and Superman’, this is represented by the Character of Don Juan. Don Juan is a legendary womanizer who has rejected the conventions of society. He believes that humans should live life to the fullest and experience everything that it has to offer.

The Role of Women in Society

            Shaw was a strong advocate for women’s rights. In Man and Superman, he challenges the traditional view of women as being inferior to men. He argues that women are just as capable, as men of intellectual and moral leadership.

The Importance of Education

            Shaw believed that education was essential for the improvement of the human race. In Man and Superman, he argues that education should be used to teach people how to think for themselves and question authority.

Analysis & Summary of the Play

            The play starts with a dedication, in the form of a letter, addressed to Arthur Bingham Walkley, Shaw’s friend, who according to the letter had once asked Shaw why he did not write a ‘Don Juan’ play.

            The play is an example of a comedy of manners that explores the themes of love,  marriage, and the nature of “Superman”. The play is divided into four acts. The first three acts are set in the real world, and they follow the story of John Tanner, a womanizing, philosopher and who is determined to marry him. The fourth act is set in Hell and it takes the form of a dream that Tanner has.

            When a man named Mr. Whitefield dies, he entrusts the guardianship of his daughter, Ann to two men; the revolutionary young ‘Jack Tanner’ and the stodgy rich ‘Roebuck Ramsden’. Jack, a sworn bachelor, has chosen to devote his life to philosophical pursuits. Meanwhile, Octavius Robinson, who was like a Son to Mr. Whitefield, becomes infatuated with Ann and determined to marry her, unaware that Ann is truly in love with Jack.

            In the first three acts, Shaw explores the conflict between Tanner’s intellectual idealism and Ann’s biological determinism. Tanner believes that humans are capable of great things but he also believes that they are often held back by their animal instincts.

            In the fourth act, Tanner’s dream takes him on a journey through Hell, where he meets a variety of Characters who are human nature. These characters include ‘Don Juan’ a symbol of the life force, ‘Dona Ana’, a symbol of the intellect, and the Devil, a symbol of evil.

            The dream helps Tanner to understand the true nature of the conflict between himself and Ann. He realizes that he cannot escape his biological instincts, but he also realizes that he can use his intellect to control them. The play ends with Tanner and Ann agreeing to marry, but on the condition that they will remain free individuals.

Conclusion

            Thus, through the play, Shaw explores the complex relationship between men, women, and the Life force. Some critics have seen it as a pessimistic view of marriage, suggesting that it is a trap that prevents men from achieving their full potential. Others have seen it as an optimistic view, suggesting that marriage can be a positive force for good if it is based on mutual understanding and respect.

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In Memoriam By Alfred Lord Tennyson

In Memoriam by Alfred Tennyson

In Memoriam By Alfred Lord Tennyson
In Memoriam By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Introduction

            “In Memoriam” by Alfred Tennyson is one of the greatest poems of the Victorian age. This poem is also known as ‘In Memoriam A. H. H. It is an elegy for his Cambridge friend ‘Arthur Henry Hallam’, who died at the age of twenty-two years, in Vienna in 1833. Tennyson wrote this poem in his memory. He first published the poem in his memory.

Tennyson first published the poem anonymously in 1850 and is nearly anonymously in 1850 and is nearly 100 pages long. The poem has 133 cantos, and each stanza contains four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABBA, in iambic tetrameter, a form known as “Memoriam Stanza” due to its melancholy effect. The poem is divided into three main parts:

◽ The Prologue
◽ The Poem
◽ The Epilogue

About Alfred Tennyson

            Alfred Tennyson was an English Poet. He was the Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. His works not only explore the relationship between science and religion, but the importance of perseverance and remaining optimistic in front of despair. Two of his best known poems are – ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ and ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Tennyson also held high standing in Victorian society, having the title of ‘1st Baron Tennyson of Aldworth and Freshwater.’

            Some of his other most famous works include – ‘The Lady of Shalott’, ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Idylls of a King.’

Themes of “In Memoriam” Poem

            In Memoriam A.H.H. is a long and complex poem, and it explores a wide range of themes. Some of the most important themes include:

  • The Meaning of Life
  • Mystery of Death
  • Grief as a form of Love
  • Doubt strengthens Religious faith
  • Grief and Loss
  • Faith and Doubt.
  • The relationship between the individual and the universe.

The Meaning of Life

The poem explores the meaning of life. Tennyson asks questions about the purpose of existence, and he searches for answers in nature, in history, and in his own faith.

Mystery of Death

After his friend Hallam’s death at a young age, the speaker asks two significant questions about the mystery of death – Is there life after death for humans? And can the living still love and communicate with the dead?

      The speaker believes death ends the life of Hallam’s physical body, but not his soul, personality, or memories.

Grief as a form of Love

The speaker says in Canto 1, that without love, there would be no grief, love is essential to grief. His deep sorrow at Hallam’s death proves his deep love for his friend in life. The Speaker’s grief often takes the form of singing and music both expressions of praise and deep emotion.

Doubt Strengthens Religious Faith

Formally a steadfast, but perhaps somewhat rote, believer in the Christian religion the speaker grapples with uncertainty. He can’t prove his beliefs are true. He has no evidence of an afterlife where Hallam’s soul will live in eternity.

Grief and Loss

The poem is a meditation on the death of Tennyson’s friend Arthur Hallam. Tennyson’s grief is raw and honest and he does not shy away from expressing his sorrow. The poem offers comfort to those who have lost loved ones, and it shows that grief is a normal and healthy response to loss.

Faith and Doubt

The poem also explores the themes of faith and doubt. Tennyson is a devout Christian, but he also struggles with his faith in the face, of Hallam’s death. He questions God’s goodness and justice, and he wonders if there is any meaning in life without Hallam. The poem shows that faith is not always easy, but it can offer comfort and hope in the face of loss.

The Relationship between the Individual and the Universe

The poem explores the relationship between the individual and the universe. Tennyson Contemplates the place of humanity in the cosmos and he wonders how to find meaning in a vast and indifferent universe.

      These are just some of the themes explored in ‘In Memoriam A. H. H. The poem is a complex and profound work of art, and it continues to offer insights into the human condition.

Summary Of The Poem

   The poem opens addressing Jesus, discussing how God made both life and death. He uses the image of Jesus with his foot on a Skull to show him as the conqueror of Death. Humanity is humbled in the presence of God, as our ‘systems’ are finite. We are unable to see God’s plan.

      Tennyson asks for God’s forgiveness for the nature of his words, as he fluctuates between faith and doubt throughout the poem. He says he has “Wild and wandering words’ as he tries to make sense of the death of his friend. He prays for wisdom and regrets his wasted youth. The poet describes how he grieved. He once believed that men would slowly rise from death into eternal state, he once believed in God, but in his grief, he wishes he could fast forward through time to skip the grieving period.

      Tennyson addresses a yew tree in a graveyard. He imagines that the roots are wrapped around a body buried beneath. The seasons, and nature, move on in their patterns beating out the “little lives of men”. Here he questions the existence of God and an afterlife. He sometimes believes he is sinning by writing of his grief.

He argues that even though the loss of a loved one is common to the human race, it doesn’t make him less bitter, but more so knowing that every day someone else’s heart is breaking. He imagines families who are still waiting for their dead family members, like a mother who waits for her son who has drowned at sea.

      Arthur’s body was returned to England from Italy by ship. He spends a lot of time addressing and describing the ship that brought his friend’s body. By winter, Tennyson’s woe is causing “Wild Unrest” in him. He confronts this change in canto 16, wandering that sorrow could cause him to feel both wild and calm. Only the Bible comforts him.

As he questions the meaning of death and life, he concludes that humans have souls allowing them to live on after death and that their purpose on earth is to gain knowledge. As the author was a good and intelligent man, he believed that Arthur’s soul must be alive somewhere. He imagines meeting with him again.

      The epilogue finds Tennyson at his sister’s wedding while he has lost a close friend, he has gained a brother-in-law. Arthur Hallam and Tennyson became friends in 1829 at Cambridge. Hallam met Tennyson’s sister, Emily, and the two were soon engaged. Hallam also wrote poetry and he and Tennyson planned to one day publish a collection together. He died of a brain hemorrhage while visiting Vienna with his father at the age of twenty-two. Emily would later marry and name her first son after Hallam.

      Queen Victoria met with Tennyson in 1833 to tell him the poem had been a comfort to her following the death of her husband, Prince Albert.

Conclusion

      Thus, “In Memoriam” by Alfred Lord Tennyson was specifically composed as a heartfelt lament for the untimely passing of his dear friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. The poem is undeniably an elegy, intended to evoke a prevailing sense of mourning. However, some critics believe that the elegiac quality of the poem is overshadowed by its religious scientific, and philosophical aspects. It is also a reflection of the intellectual and cultural climate of the Victorian age, which was marked by both scientific advancement and religious crisis.

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