Describe the conflict faced by the speaker in "Ulysses." Does Tennyson see Ulysses as heroic or as selfish and self-justifying? Explain your answers using examples from the poem.

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One conflict faced by the speaker in this poem is the conflict between his age and his waning strength on the one hand and his desire for more adventures on the other. Indeed, Ulysses acknowledges that he no longer possesses "that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven," but, nonetheless, he is determined to "strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Another conflict faced by the speaker is implied in your answer. Ulysses must decide whether to stay and rule over the people of Ithaca or leave and fulfill his own desires for adventure. He decides upon the latter course, and this may indeed be a selfish choice. However, he does leave behind his son, Telemachus, who he says is "discerning" and "pruden[t]." If Ulysses believes that his son can rule as well as he, then perhaps his decision to leave them is not so selfish after all. Or, at the very least, his selfishness is mitigated somewhat.

There seems to be far more evidence in the poem that Ulysses is heroic rather...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 550 words.)

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