Regret: A Hopeless Quality
Tenets of Tenneyson in Tithonus
"Tithonus" was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The poem's setting is the ancient
of Tithonus. Tithonus fell in love with Eos, goddess of the dawn, and asked her for
Unfortunately for Tithonus he did not ask for eternal youth, only eternal life. He,
grows old but never dies while Eos not only never dies but also never grows old.
Tithonus's situation worse is that "the gods themselves cannot recall their gifts" (49).
dramatic monologue is characteristic of Tennyson.
Tithonus is an excellent example of a dramatic monologue. There is a speaker,
who is not the poet. There is an audience-the gods. Another characteristic of a
monologue found in Tithonus is an exchange between the speaker and the
audience: "I asked
thee, 'Give me immortality?'" (15). A character study is when the speaker speaks from
extraordinary perspective: Tithonus is looking back on his decision, a decision which
will never be able to make but can only dream of making. His portrayal of his
decision causes the
common response to be rejected: most people would want eternal life, but Tithonus
short-sighted. Tithonus proves the wish for immortality vain by stating that:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men,
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all? (29-31).
Another trait of the dramatic monologue is the dramatic, or critical, moment. In
moment is when Tithonus decides that he does not want immortality: "take back thy
"Tithonus" has all of the basic traits of a dramatic monologue: a speaker who is not
the poet, an
identifiable audience, an exchange between the two, a critical moment, and a
character study of
One other trait of a dramatic monologue is a dramatic tension. This tension is
harsh judgment and sympathy. This tension makes the audience see objectively
subjectively. The audience has sympathy for Tithonus, because he suffers: "strong
indignant worked their wills, and beat me down and marred and wasted me" (50) His
story also bring sympathy from the audience. The audience must judge Tithonus
because he has made an error. His error was his will "to vary from the kindly race of
The dramatic tension in "Tithonus" is caused by the clash of the audience's sympathy
need to judge Tithonus's actions.
"Tithonus" has many of the traits characteristic of Tennyson. One such tenet is world
weariness and the expression for rest, this is portrayed by Tithonus's desire to grow
old and die.
Didacticism, or instructiveness, is found in the statement, "happy men. . . have the
power to die"
(70). Another tenet of Tennyson present is it is a form of a narrative, a monologue.
also contains the fulfillment of the responsibility as a poet to teach the masses:
that man's mortality is a blessing. The great Romantic and Victorian theme of the
past is also
prevalent in Tithonus's will to undo the curse of immortality: "take back thy gift" (27).
obvious tenet of Tennyson is the recasting of ancient myths: Tennyson tells the
ancient story of
Tithonus. Isolation and estrangement, another tenet of Tennyson, is present in
man and part god status which alienates him from both: "immortal age beside
(22). Tennyson also uses elevated, stately, medieval diction: "thine," "thy," and "thee"
53). In "Tithonus" Tennyson shows that he is a poet of progress and change: "the
the woods decay and fall" (1). Tennyson also portrays social awareness of the
message has to the culture: he shows the social significance of immortality, a dream
have, and the alienation it causes by varying man "from the kindly race of men" (29).
indirectly suppresses sexuality by showing a negative outcome of lust between two
This esoteric poem offers a didactic statement of the poet's moral and social
"Where all should pause, as is most meet for all" (31). "Tithonus" has an underlying
escapism in that Tithonus wishes to escape the endless frustrations of life: "release
restore me to the grave" (72). Through this quote, Tennyson also shows his yearning
permanence, the permanence of death. Tennyson also depicts his patriotism,
patriotism to the
"race of men" by trying to teach others not to wish to vary from it (29). "Tithonus"
most of the major tenets of Tennyson.
In the end, this poem is about decision making and the eternal consequences of
Through Tithonus's misadventures of immortality, the audience learns that
immortality is not for
man, and it is through the dramatic tension that the audience sees this objectively.
stresses the art of good decision making and the importance of our decisions
because of the
possibly eternal significance they have.
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