Tennyson's In Memoriam Essay

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Tennyson's In Memoriam In Memoriam is an elegy to Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam, but bears the hallmark of its mid nineteenth century context, 'the locus classicus of the science-and-religion debate.'Upon reflection, Hallam's tragic death has proved to be an event that provoked Tennyson's embarkation upon a much more ambitious poetic project than conventional Miltonian elegy, involving meditation upon the profoundest questions faced by mankind. Scientific advancements, most notably in the fields of geology and biology, challenged the beliefs that form the foundation of Christianity: the belief in a beneficent God responsible for creation and ensuing superintendence and the belief in man's immortal soul. By the mid…show more content…
They are Tennyson?s trip through Hades. By personifying Nature and placing ?her? in opposition to God as a distinct power, Tennyson seems to imply a polytheistic belief that two, not one, seats of power exist. In these passages it seems that Tennyson perceives Nature to have greater influence over Earth and mankind. At the close of LV, God appears as distant and hidden in darkness, leaving man in a state analogous with that of a child ? weak, vulnerable and desirous of care: he falls ?upon the great world?s altar stairs That slope thro? darkness up to God,? (lines 14-15). Metaphorically darkness represents the secrecy surrounding God and the answers that he holds, a motif that is reprised at the close of LVI: ?behind the veil, behind the veil.? The repetition of the clause emphasises Tennyson?s frustrations. Indeed God seems so distant and hidden that Tennyson?s faith in his existence is weakened and he is only able to ?feel? and ?faintly trust,? not resolutely know. The lack of conviction conveyed here through Tennyson?s semantic choices illustrates an emergence of disillusion with eutheistic belief. The existence of the Christian conception of a loving god is called into question, and it is implicitly asserted that the conception of Nature conveyed in these passages may be the true, ditheistic, conception of God. That ?of fifty seeds she often brings but one to bear? (LV line 7-8) envisages a large picture of organic existence, despairing of
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