Consider the following remark: "Tennyson in In Memoriam seems to be taking recourse to a host of strategies to deal with the untimely loss of Hallam. Ranging from the use of poetic devices from another age to visualizing radical invasions of the afterworld, these acts on the part of the bereaved poet ultimately point to an ethics of preservation shaping the poet's journey from grief to consolation." Write an essay reflecting on the nature of this preservation worked out by the poet.

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To get you started on this assignment, let's reflect on the meaning of "ethics of preservation" and determine what Tennyson is trying to preserve and how he does it in In Memoriam. The poet is trying to preserve several things in the wake of the death of his close friend Arthur. He is trying to preserve his sanity in the midst of his grief. He is trying to preserve his faith in the midst of this sudden death. He is trying to preserve the memory of his friend.

It takes Tennyson 131 cantos to work out this ethics of preservation, and he does indeed use several strategies in order to do so. Writing about his grief, for instance, helps release some of the tension surrounding it, as he can describe both his "wild and wandering cries" and his "calm despair." He can wrestle with the question of whether his grief is sinful or normal.

Tennyson's poem also allows him to reflect on the doctrines of Christianity. He recalls Heaven and the immortality of the soul and comforts himself with those ideas. He struggles with the problem of human suffering and embraces the higher goal of human life that extends beyond this world. These meditations help him preserve his faith in the midst of his grief.

Tennyson further strives to preserve Arthur's memory, describing his compassion and his character and imagining their reunion in Heaven. If he can keep Arthur alive somehow through his words, he will find comfort in that.

Now in terms of your essay, you should begin by reading the poem closely, with the ethics of preservation in mind. Develop a thesis statement that you will prove throughout your essay. It could be something along the lines of what we've been discussing—namely, that the ethics of preservation Tennyson promotes in the poem has three main parts and is designed to help him cope with his grief. If you decide to go this way, revisit the poem and pull out textual evidence to support each of the three main items of preservation. These points, the textual evidence, and your interpretation of the evidence will form the body of your paper. Don't forget to end with a conclusion that restates your thesis and leaves your readers with a point to ponder.

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