Weekly Assignment #3

September 11, 2006 at 4:30 pm (General)

Sorry: I forgot to post this week’s assignment! It’s the same as always, of course. If you’ve already posted a question, you don’t need to re-post it here (although that would make things a bit more convenient).

The first part of the weekly assignment is to ask a question about the reading for this week — a real question; i.e., something you don’t know the answer to. ONE sentence only, please: questions of more than one sentence will not receive credit. I might give an extra point for great questions. Questions are due by midnight on Monday. Late questions will not be given credit.

The second part of the weekly assignment is to answer someone’s question (not your own). You must cite at least one authoritative source. (I will withhold credit for answers without a reference. If you make a sui generis argument, find an authority to support it, or else find an authority to testily contradict.) These answers can be as long as you like; I might give an extra point for great answers. Answers are due by midnight on Wednesday. Late answers will not be given credit.

Submit all questions and answers as comments to this post. Feel free to post other commentary in the comments, as well.

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33 Comments

  1. Meredith Willis said,

    In our book, the footnote for “Maud” says that Tennyson commented that the poem was “a little Hamlet”. How is the poem “Maud” like or dislike Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”?

  2. Aaron M. Bobick said,

    I’m curious about the critical reception of “Tithonus” back in 1860. The rhyme scheme seems bit un-Tennysonian to me, and I was wondering if any his contemporaries thought that as well.
    And I thought I’d add that “Locksley Hall” is one of the greatest poems ever.

  3. Jake Burnett said,

    What was Tennyson’s experience with what we would now call mental illness?

  4. Susanna Branyon said,

    Aaron, I couldn’t agree with you more. That poem blows my hair back every time I read it.
    Could someone please remind us of the myth of Orion that plays a part in “Locksley Hall”?

  5. Lindsay S. said,

    What is the critical mass on “Mariana,” or, in plainer terms, why is it anthologized?

  6. Laura Robinson said,

    Question: Did Tennyson ever draw parallels between his personal love life and any particular poems and/or have scholars drawn any?

  7. Eric Gerson said,

    How were Tennyson’s religious convictions changed by the death of his friend Hallum?

  8. Eric Gerson said,

    I hereby call Aaron’s question, to be answered swiftly tomorrow. Good day.

  9. Chris Nelson said,

    I call Meredith’s question.

  10. Chris Nelson said,

    Now, for my question: What socio-economic class was Tennyson raised in, as he seems to have a very romanticized view of Victorian England?

  11. Laura Robinson said,

    Chris – I’ll take your question.

  12. Matt Simmons said,

    I’m calling Chris’ question before somebody else steps in and grabs it.
    Now, for my question.
    Where were the different tellings of the Titohonus myth from which Tennyson could have chosen, and which did he choose?
    Also, just for my own erudition–did Hardy know Tennyson? They seem to be sort of poetic blood-brothers, although Tennyson was a good thirty years older than Hardy.

  13. Jake Burnett said,

    I’ll take Matt’s question about Tithonus.

  14. Josh Gane said,

    Building on Laura’s question, how did society in Tennyson’s time view marriage between cousins?

  15. Kelly Mahaffey said,

    How did Tennyson’s use of lyric and meter affect the evolution of the poetic form?

  16. Susanna Branyon said,

    Dibs on Jake’s question…

  17. Aaron. M. Bobick said,

    Jake,
    I know that Alfie’s brothers had mental illnesses of some kind or another. He also had something of a mental breakdown after A.H.H. died. I’ll try to find the specifics on each.

  18. Lindsay S. said,

    Dibs on Josh’s question.

  19. Jake Burnett said,

    Per _Bulfinch’s_Mythology_:
    “The goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon was at times inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but, forgetting to have youth joined in the great gift, after some time she began to discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old. When his hair was quite white she left his society; but he still had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in celestial raiment. At length he lost the power of using his limbs, and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice might at times be heard. Finally she turned him into a grasshopper” (207).
    The biggest difference I can see is that, in Tennyson’s version of the myth, it is Tithonus who asks for immortality. That’s a fairly important distinction, and makes the irony a play on him rather than he the helpless pawn in divine ironies.
    SOURCE: Bulfinch, Thomas. _Bulfinch’s_Mythology_, Crown Publishers Inc.: New York, 1979.

  20. Chris Nelson said,

    Meredith,
    Many critics draw comparisons between “Hamlet,” “Maud,” and a school of poetry called the “Spasmodic” poets (who, I will admit, I had never heard of before). Hamlet, the narrator in “Maud,” and the spasmodic protagonists shared many attributes, such as the indulgence of passions and a tendency towards solipsism. For example, both Maud’s lover and Hamlet are plagued by visions of ghosts, such as in lines 256-258 of Part II, “Ever about me the dead men go;/And then to hear a dead man chatter/Is enough to drive one mad,” and both do end up on the questionable side of sanity. However, “Maud”‘s protagonist differs from Hamlet in that the reader is left to trust the narrator’s version of events, whereas in the Shakespeare Hamlet’s assertions are supported by his actions and the words of fellow characters.
    Source:
    Harrison, Antony. “Irony in Tennyson’s ‘Little Hamlet’.” JOURNAL OF GENERAL EDUCATION. v32 n4 pp271-286. 1981.

  21. Holly Ellern said,

    I’ll take Eric’s question.

  22. Sarah Simpson said,

    Thanks, Daniela. I guess it should’ve been obvious to me…I guess the gals back then just fell in love with any ol knight who passed by. Meridith’s feminist reading seems a bit more palatable, less gaggy.

  23. Daniela Newland said,

    Sarah,
    It was not obvious to me either. That’s why I grabbed your question–I really wanted to know!

  24. Eric Gerson said,

    Aaron,
    Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a source that discusses the critical attitude toward “Tithonus,” but I did find an article that discusses the critical attitude to just about every other poem. According to Joyce Green’s “Tennyson’s Development during the ‘Ten Years’ Silence’ (1832-1842), Tennyson rewrote or omitted more than half of his criticized poems and passages (663). Due to numerous reviews by J.S. Dwight in the “American Christian Examiner,” Tennyson omitted seven lines from the poem “Poet’s Mind,” but retained in their entirety “The Merman,” “The Mermaid,” and the two songs “To The Owl” (675). Even though critical reviews did not always influence Tennyson’s decisions to alter or omit his poems (681), Green asserts that the consensus of critical opinions to his poetry led Tennyson to remove forty-six of eighty-five poems in his two early volumes; regardless of whether the reviews for the poems were good (14), or bad (18). Interestingly, the eleventh stanza of “Lady of Shallot” reads “still Shallot,” but originally the line was “green Shallot.” This change was due to the criticism in the 1842 edition of the “Literary Gazette” (678).
    I know that your question regarded how the critics felt about Tennyson’s rhyme scheme, so if you are interested in that, Green provides a detailed table at the end of her article listing the various categories of poetical devices, and how critics perceived them through the use of letters and symbols in a key. I think that to discern the table and try to transcribe it here would be too much, so I’ll leave that to you to look over yourself.
    Source:
    Green, Joyce. “Tennyson’s Development during the ‘Ten Years’ Silence’ (1832-1842). PMLA 66, 5 (Sept. 1951): 662-97.

  25. Lindsay S. said,

    Hi Josh,
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins [or maybe second?], and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  26. Lindsay S. said,

    Hi Josh,
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins [or maybe second?], and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  27. Lindsay S. said,

    Hi Josh,
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins [or maybe second?], and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  28. Lindsay S. said,

    Hi Josh,
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins (or maybe second?), and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  29. Lindsay S. said,

    Josh:
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins (or maybe second?), and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  30. Lindsay S. said,

    Josh:
    So this is an interesting question: marriage between cousins. I did a little research and discovered some interesting things about Victorian incest and cousin marriage (also called “consanguinuity”). Obviously, because of moral reasons, marriage between cousins was illegal; however, there’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting unusually close sibling ties in the nineteenth century. Nancy Anderson, in her article, “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill’ Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England,” talks about Robert Browning’s intimate bond with his sister, as well as the near-incestuous intimacy of the Bell siblings (Virginia, Vanessa, Thorby, and George).
    In this same article, Anderson also touches on consanguinuity, saying that the marriage of first cousins was legal in Victorian England, and it was apparently quite common. She mentions that because first cousins were generally not raised in close contact, as siblings were, their marriage didn’t arouse subconscious guilt, which is why it was generally considered OK. Only until the late Victorian period was this belief even challenged.
    (As a side note, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were also first cousins (or maybe second?), and they married half a century later!)
    Anderson, Nancy F. “The ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister’ Bill Controversy: Incest Anxiety and the Defense of Family Purity in Victorian England.” The Journal of British Studies: 21.2 (1982). 67-86.

  31. Lindsay S. said,

    Hi, everyone. My comments are being marked as spam, so if you want to see my answer to Josh’s question go here:

  32. Aaron M. Bobick said,

    I’m going to piggyback Jake’s question with Sussana.
    “…but he [ Rev. Geo. Tennyson] carried what the family called the Tennyson ‘black blood.’ He became increasingly subject to fits of depression and violence, and finally to bouts of alcoholism. The Tennyson children (nice out of twelve survived to maturity) were all talented, but there was among them a remarkably high proportion of severe neurosis. It was reported on his own testimony that ‘more than once Alfred, scared by his father’s fits of despondency, went out through the black night, and threw himself on a gravce in the churchyard, praying to be beneath the sod himself” (3).
    Houghton, Walter E. and G. Robert Stange eds. “Victorian Poetry and Poetics.” Second ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Comapny, 1968.

  33. Josh Gane said,

    Jake’s Question
    Just to throw out and “piggyback” Jakes question, though treatment in the time had been revolutionized through the studies of Pinel and Tuck to improve conditions of medical hospitals, it is known that Tennyson was never admited to such treatment and therefore did struggle with alcohol.
    http://www.a2zpsychology.com/psychology_guide/mental_illness.htm

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