ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON; CHARLES DARWIN
, pages 1084-1132; 1571-1575.
1. Although the Introduction to the Victorian Age discusses the code of Puritanism and
respectability which arose from the Evangelicals (a powerful and active religious sect, but a
minority), Victorian writers were concerned with the general decay of a unifying religious faith.
What problem of faith does Tennyson say that he is struggling with in sections 1-3 of
? Specifically summarize what he is saying in each section.
Tennyson is dealing with the problem of Man’s significance to the universe. He discusses
love and grief, but explains that his own thoughts are meaningless when we compare them to
nature and time. In the last section, he is sorrowful. He could be referring to his lost love, the
reason for his grief, or to the realization that he is insignificant to the “big picture” of life.
In section 1, Tennyson explains that it is better to love and grieve than it is to forget.
People should, like Goethe said, be resilient, and progressively rise from failure. Sometimes it’s
hard to find positivity in our lives. Grief and love are naturally intertwined, and it’s inevitable
that people will have negative experiences. Time will scorn those who have loved. They won’t
stop being reminded them of their loss and will feel worn-down at times.
In section 2, Tennyson explains that in the end, man and man’s life is insignificant
compared with time. Tennyson uses the metaphor of a yew, which does not ever blossom or
change, and sits on top of a graveyard, to symbolize time. Tennyson is gloomy about the fact that
human life is so unimportant compared to Time.
In section 3, Tennyson discusses sorrow, which he describes as deceitful, sweet, and
bitter, all at the same time. He is accompanied by sorrow, and sorrow depresses him (as shown
by his imagery of the “dying sun”). Sorrow makes him hollow. He questions whether he should
keep sorrow in his mind or destroy it.