Literary Analysis Essay of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’
Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ is one of the famous pieces of the Victorian poets. Written in 1850, the poem is divided into 133 different sections and is comprised of 4 lines per stanza. Its rhyme scheme is abab pattern and highlights various themes including grief, search for faith and the presence of doubt. By dividing this poem into fragments, Tennyson is able to highlight important areas that arguably shaped not only his personal insights but on the general sentiments experienced by humans as they find ways to connect with their individual beliefs and perspectives about life.
One of the overlapping themes presented by Tennyson in the numerous sections of the poem corresponds to the interaction between religion and science. Here, readers are able to recognize the transformation of the speaker from questioning the continuing ability of science to challenge certain beliefs advocated by religion. Though there might be at times that the speaker of the poem is tempted to live a savage life, there is reaffirmation concerning the relevance of integrating science in order to become critical and develop further one’s faith (VictorianWeb.org 1). For the poem, it affirms the necessity of recognizing the significance of human progress because it strengthens the resolve towards understanding how faith and religion fits in the equation. All these bring forward the scientific discoveries that are happening during Tennyson’s lifetime (Wilson 1). These in turn opened up the question of reconciling religion and science, and what common grounds are available.
Another important theme is issues related to doubt and hope. In his piece, Tennyson provides readers the ability to recognize the development of the speaker. Initially, it can be seen that due to a difficult experience in the past, the speaker found it challenging to understand what is happening. Perspectives related to death, longing and despair are brought forward as a particular meaning is sought (Tennyson 1). Though there are numerous situations wherein the speaker wants to surrender to the grief, there are instances that enabled the person to persevere and recognize significance in all that is happening. Specifically, the ability of the person to accept the reality of death and identify sentiments related to loss, it opens up insights surrounding the significance of faith and the necessity to move forward and grow in the process.
Also relevant in understanding the poem is the reality that man, amidst the success and achievements remain to be susceptible to emotional struggles and despair. Arguably, Tennyson’s piece offers readers the capacity to understand the human condition and the manner that people deal with death and its related struggles. Specifically, the ability of the poem to offer contrasting viewpoints enable readers to appreciate that amidst the suffering and longing caused by death, these strong emotions would enable us to become stronger and reinforce our ability to accept what is happening and continue to live life.
Overall, Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ remains to be rich and attracts multiple themes for readers to analyze and understand. Given the numerous sections, each one offers readers a deeper perspective of how the speaker transforms from being pessimistic and melancholic to somebody who finds hope and renewed faith. Dwelling on themes related to suffering, death and despair, Tennyson is able to capture a universal reality that demonstrates how people cope with situation. Also, by presenting a critical stance, the poem is able to capture the universality of death and its corresponding themes. Even if this can be attributed to Tennyson’s actual life, the ideas presented remain to be valuable in expounding on the human condition and give emphasis that the struggles enables people to learn and appreciate the importance of life.
Tennyson, Alfred Lord. ‘In Memoriam’ On-Line Literature, n.d. Web. Accessed 9 August 2014.
VictorianWeb.org.Reconciling Religion and the Biological Type in Tennyson’s In Memoriam, 23 May 2011. Web. Accessed 9 August 2014.
Wilson, An. ‘Tennyson’s In Memoriam: a farewell to religious certainty’ the Guardian, 4 January 2011. Web. Accessed 9 August 2014.