A dramatic monologue is a poem in which the first-person speaker addresses the reader or an imaginary interlocutor directly and tells a story or makes a series of observations. The monologue reveals the character of the speaker, wherein lies the drama. Tennyson's 1842 poem "Ulysses" is often regarded is the first major example of the form and it became popular among Victorian poets, with Tennyson, Browning and Arnold all writing dramatic monologues.
While Browning's dramatic monologues tend to be very sensational, with unhinged speakers demonstrating their monstrous personalities and confessing to appalling deeds, Tennyson's are quieter and more contemplative. The tone of "Ulysses" varies from querulous to wistful, with a surge of hopeful energy at the end. It is this, arguably, that makes the monologue dramatic, rather than meditative. Much of the poem is given up to complaint:
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life!
Ulysses describes himself fading away. Most of the heroes with whom he fought are dead, and his survival has got him nothing except a tedious life with an aged wife on a rocky island. The drama comes when he stirs himself to action:
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
This inspiring thought leads Ulysses to a conclusion at which he hinted early in the poem:
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees...
At the end, however, it is still dramatic when he vows to follow up this principle with decisive action
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
The end of the poem, therefore, is the beginning of another adventure.