Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Art Fueled By Madness And The Battle With Manic Depressive Illness

1839 words - 8 pages

Alfred, Lord Tennyson"It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all," is possibly one of the most famous quotes in the world, given to literature by Alfred, Lord Tennyson - commonly referred to as Lord Alfred Tennyson - whom was largely regarded as the representative of the Victorian Era. Lord Alfred Tennyson was born into a family with a rich history of documented mental instability, he himself suffering from what is commonly known as Bi-Polar (or Manic Depressive) disorder. In this paper, we will learn a little about Lord Tennyson and his family history of bi-polar disorder; some characteristics of the disorder and how it could have been both beneficial and ...view middle of the document...

(Everett.) It was upon Hallam's death in 1833 at the age of twenty-two that prompted the writing of "In Memoriam," -a eulogy that commemorates his beloved friend - which took Tennyson seventeen years to complete, in time for him to win Poet Laureate in 1850 over William Wordsworth prior to his death in October of 1892, (Jalic.) Of his collected works, none were so profound and captured the depressive mood of Bi-Polar disorder like "Maud, and Other Poems," published in 1855. "Maud" was hailed by critics as morbid and obscure; dealing with poems of a very depressed nature - as evident of his mental state while writing it.Throughout his life, Alfred, Lord Tennyson struggled with unstable mood swings and the mental instabilities of many in his family. It has been documented in a plethora of sources that several of the men (and a few women) in the Tennyson family battled long, debilitating bouts of depression and episodes of manic madness and anger. His father and one of his brothers were noted to have been severely epileptic, which was made worse by alcoholism. Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine published and article in which she illustrates the lineage of the Tennyson Family's mental illnesses:"Alfred, Lord Tennyson experienced recurrent, debilitating depressions and probable hypomanic spells, often expressed fear that he might inherit the madness, or "taint of blood," in his family. His father, grandfather, two of his great-grandfathers as well as five of his seven brothers suffered from insanity, melancholia, uncontrollable rage or what is today known as manic-depressive illness. His brother Edward was confined to an asylum for nearly 60 years before he died from manic exhaustion. Lionel Tennyson, one of Alfred's two sons, displayed a mercurial temperament, as did one of his three grandsons. Modern medicine has confirmed that manic-depression and creativity tend to run in certain families," (Jamison 46.)This confirms the publications and claims of mental illness in the Tennyson family, and reaffirms why in 1830 Alfred Tennyson checked himself into a sanitarium for observation from worry about being mentally unstable like his relatives.We are aware now that Alfred, Lord Tennyson suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder, but what exactly is it? We know that it's extreme differences in mood, but now we will learn more in depth about this disorder and what specifically about it affected Lord Tennyson.According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) , Bipolar disorder is a disorder that causes abnormal changes in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. The symptoms are far worse than the typical ups and downs of a normal, healthy person that result in damaged relationships, poor perfunctory skills, and possibly even suicide. Bi-Polar disorder CAN be treated, but like diabetes or heart disease, it's a lifetime of treatment that must be carefully monitored. Bi-polar...

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