Can anyone give some exampes of courage in Tennyson's poetry?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Courage can be found in many of Tennyson's poems. Perhaps the most obvious example to examine would be "The Charge of the Light Brigade," where the Light Brigade rode into certain "death" when they made their brave and noble last charge. However, when I think of Tennyson's works, there are actually other poems that spring to mind as providing excellent examples of courage. Firstly, in "Ulysses," the example that Ulysses himself gives of not being afraid to go for one last adventure, even though he is now old and not in the same physical condition as he was before, shows tremendous courage. Note what he says to his former sailors as he urges them to join him:

...you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

It is the belief of Ulysses that "Some work of noble note" can be achieved before he dies, even though he is old, that drives him on this courageous last expedition before he dies. It would have been easy for him to just reconcile himself to his last few years of ruling in Ithaca and not to push himself to be adventurous in any way, but his refusal to accept the easy option for his own life shows tremendous bravery.

In the same way, "The Lady of Shallott" depicts an act of immense bravery when the Lady of Shallott, even though she knows she will be cursed, chooses to look upon Camelot, but not through the reflection of the mirror:

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.

Tennyson presents the Lady of Shallott as being so entranced by the vivid and vibrant reflection of Sir Lancelot that she willingly embraces the curse that she knows will fall upon her in order to see life in all of its fullness and colour. Even though the Lady of Shallott must have known that this would have probably resulted in her death, she still considers this a sacrifce worth making in order to see life in all of its beauty for once. This is an act that displays tremendous courage, just like the way in which Ulysses refuses to settle for a slow death.  

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hedy's profile pic

hedy | eNotes Newbie

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briefly ... you can read the second stanza of The Charge of the Light Brigade

this stanza is a message of encouragement.

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