Victorian Literature Of Quests Essay

1056 words - 5 pages

The idea of a character on a quest is quite common in Victorian stories and poetry. A quest is a journey made in order to seek something out such as treasure, knowledge, or just for the mere enjoyment. The people of the Victorian Era are respectable, energetic, and conventional; yet, the literature of their time reflects doubt regarding different aspects of society like religion, class privilege, and gender roles. Because of this, many Victorian writers and poets chose to integrate the idea of the quest into their writings. They chose to write about quests considering that is what the Victorian people wanted to read about. One of the most well known Victorian writers who incorporates the theme of quest in his works is Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his pieces “Ulysses” and “Crossing the Bar.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson writes about a character yearning to continue journeying around the world in “Ulysses.” Ulysses, who is also the narrator of the poem, explains that he “cannot rest from travel” and that he “will drink life to the lees” (lines 6, 7). Ulysses tells the reader that he has visited numerous different places encountering different people, weather, governments, and the like. Tennyson portrays Ulysses as some kind of predatory animal when he describes him "roaming with a hungry heart" (12). The reader might suggest that this metaphor expresses Ulysses wandering around just craving to adventure out someplace to satisfy his heart’s desire. He believes that he has to live life to the fullest so he wants to explore and experience everything in the world. He thinks it is boring to stay in one place. Ulysses clarifies that “tis not too late to seek a newer world” no matter how old one is (57). He claims that he will “sail beyond the sunset,” which the reader might view as another metaphor, meaning he will continue to sail until and after his death (60).
Tennyson also writes about the idea of quest in his other poem “Crossing the Bar.” The journey taken by the character in this poem is unknown to the reader at first. The speaker notices the sun setting and the stars rising and hears “one clear call” for him (line 2). The reader does not know where the narrator is going but might guess that this call he hears is death approaching. The speaker continues to say that he hopes there will be “no moaning of the bar” when he goes out to the sea (3). The sandbar may be a metaphor for the barrier between life and death. He is about to set sail by midnight and hears an “evening bell” (9). This bell could be of which call people to their afterlife. He goes on to say, “And may there be no sadness of farewell/ When I embark” (11-12). He says the sea will take him “bourne of Time and Place”, and at this point the reader is certain that the speaker is describing his journey towards death (13). He hopes to see...

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