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Tennyson In Memoriam A.H.H.

Uploaded by sinbaaad on Oct 30, 2011

This essay examines Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem about the death of his friend.

I Introduction

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “In Memoriam A.H.H.” upon the death of Arthur Henry Hallam, his dearest friend. The poem is nearly 3,000 lines long, divided into 131 sections, and it is a shattering cry of anguish and pain. The only readers unaffected by it must be young people who have yet to experience the death of someone they love.
This paper examines the poem, and the idea of desire as connected with the work.

II Discussion

The word “desire” evokes a strong response, calling to mind as it does a sexual relationship. In our over-sophisticated 21st Century, we tend to see a homosexual relationship between Tennyson and Hallam as being the only possible reason for this outpouring of grief. But critics say no: it was an intense friendship, but there was no hint, on either side, of such feelings:
“This was the beginning of four years of warm friendship between the two men, in some ways the most intense emotional experience of Tennyson's life … it is almost certain that there was nothing homosexual about the friendship: definitely not on a conscious level and probably not on any other. Indeed, it was surely the very absence of such overtones that made the warmth of their feelings acceptable to both men, and allowed them to express those feelings so freely.” (Fredeman, PG).

In order to understand the friendship, it’s necessary to understand what Tennyson’s life was like, but this paper is too brief to go into it deeply. That’s too bad, because it’s a melodramatic chronicle of drugs, alcoholism and madness that would make a wonderful film. Briefly, Tennyson was emotionally fragile, morbidly sensitive to criticism, the son of a man who had been virtually disinherited by his father, and who used drugs and alcohol to escape from reality. Tennyson had 11 siblings; one brother spent most of his life in an insane asylum; another had recurring bouts of drug addiction; a third was confined to a mental home because of his alcoholism; a fourth was confined on and off throughout his life and died young. Of the remaining children, all had severe mental breakdowns once in their lives. (Fredeman, PG). This is the miserable home that Tennyson escaped when he went to Trinity College, Cambridge. At school, he was with...

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Uploaded by:   sinbaaad

Date:   10/30/2011

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,135 words)

Views:   1775

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