Analyze the poem as a yearning for individualism and knowledge, rather than focusing on its undercurrents of insensitivity and misogyny.

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Many scholars and readers have noted that Tennyson's "Ulysses " exhibits strong undercurrents of misogyny and general male insensitivity. This point is perfectly valid, as the Ulysses in the poem shows a remarkable disregard for the needs of his wife, son, and loyal subjects. Be that as it may,...

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Many scholars and readers have noted that Tennyson's "Ulysses" exhibits strong undercurrents of misogyny and general male insensitivity. This point is perfectly valid, as the Ulysses in the poem shows a remarkable disregard for the needs of his wife, son, and loyal subjects. Be that as it may, the poem is also significant in its examination of individualism and the thirst for knowledge. Indeed, one could accurately say that the poem argues for the centrality of the individual's need to learn and discover.

In remembering his past deeds, Ulysses notes, "always roaming with a hungry heart / Much have I seen and known" (12-13), thus suggesting that he has always yearned for the freedom to learn through travel. Indeed, by the end of the first stanza, the aged king asserts that he is "yearning in desire / To follow knowledge like a sinking star, / Beyond the utmost bound of human thought" (30-32). This individualistic desire to learn about the world through adventure becomes the focus of the poem, and it is the primary driving force that motivates Ulysses to finally leave home and set off on a new journey. As such, it's hardly surprising that, toward the end of the poem, Ulysses promises "To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths / Of all the western stars, until I die" (60-61). In short, though the Ulysses in the poem is decidedly misogynistic in his rejection of his wife and family, he also displays an admirable individualism, as his decision to leave ultimately affirms the importance of individual exploration and the search for knowledge. 

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