Comparing Social Norms in My Last Duchess by Robert Browning and Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson

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When one travels, it is easy to observe differences in social norms from country to country. One may also observe differences within a country, for example, the social norms of a small town or village versus those of a large metropolis. Differences in social norms can also be observed in literature. This essay will focus on two dramatic monologues, which were written by poets who lived in England during the same period. Robert Browning published My last Duchess in 1842, the same year that Alfred Tennyson published Ulysses. Both poets lived in England during the Victorian era. However, by examining characters from their poetry, namely Alfonso in My Last Duchess and Odysseus in Ulysses, we can see that they express opposite norms concerning …show more content…
In contrast, Tennyson’s Odysseus doesn't cling to the power, even though he has his own kingdom, which allows him to control his people. Instead, he chooses to “leave the sceptre and the isle” to his son, Telemachus (Line 34) (Tennyson 645). Then he says, “When I am gone. [Telemachus] works his works” (Line 43) (Tennyson 645). For this, he has no hesitation to lose his power over people.

“[He] cannot rest from travel: [He] will drink Life to the less: all times [he has] enjoyed Greatly, [has] a suffered greatly” (Line 6-8) (Tennyson 645). Odysseus feels comfort from going around in his past, but now he can’t feel it from unchanged things like staying only in his island to do almost same thing every day. As he says that “how dull it is to pauses,” resting from his journey is not a great moment for him (Line 22) (Tennyson 645). As we can expect, he should live in luxury more than the other people in his country because he is a kind. But, he expresses that as “to rust unburnished, not to shine in use” (Line 23) (Tennyson 645). Life that he is away from finding new things doesn't mean anything for him. What's more, he mentions that “gleams that untravelled world” (Line 20) (Tennyson 645). Odysseus considers the something new shines on his life and to meet a change isn’t fear. However, Alfonso is opposite from Odysseus. He is afraid of something changes. That’s why he kills his wife, and puts his last wife
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