What Is the Theme of the Poem "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson?


Quick Answer

Tennyson's "Ulysses" incorporates themes of mortality, duty, purpose and desire. This poem is narrated from the point of view of Ulysses, the title character; a classic hero whose story is told in "The Odyssey."

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses" is a poem that allows the reader to see through the eyes of Ulysses (or Odysseus in Greek), hero of Homer's classic epic, "The Odyssey." The poem reflects on how Ulysses makes meaning in his life, and how he wants to live his life to the fullest until he dies. The reader can assume that Tennyson was guessing what it might be like for a man such as Ulysses to finally return home after years of war, adventure and travel. Though some men might be glad to stay put after such trials, Ulysses feels trapped where he is, wishing "To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die."

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