I have written an answer on the poem "Kraken" to the following question. My IGCSE board is coming up, and I was hoping to get some feedback on my answer. Could you please read it and give it a score out of 25?


Question: Explore the ways in which Tennyson uses myth and legend powerfully in this poem.


The poem “The Kraken” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson written as a sonnet is derived from the Norse legend of the kraken, a massive octopus like sea creature that dwells of the coast of Norway and Greenland. He uses figurative language imagery to not only describe the creature itself but also gives emphasis on the theater the creature lives in to bring out the grandness of the beast.


The poet uses old English which suggests that the legend is from a long time ago and it gives the reader a sense of time. The poem begins with introducing the setting of one that is far below the earth’s surface. “far, far below the abysmal sea” the repetition of the word far places emphasis on the depth and abysmal which has negative connotations may imply that something bad is about to happen. It foreshadows the upcoming rise and death of the Kraken on the Judgement day.


The speaker describes his sleep as “ancient, dreamless and uninvaded” may suggest he has been sleeping for ages and is not waiting but is more like hibernating. Also, uninvaded may suggest that no other creature dares to wake him up and hence, Implies that it is in fact a powerful beast. The next lines again highlight the depth at which the kraken is located a place where “faintest sunlight flee”. Therefore, creating an image of a dark deep place illuminated by only a few dim rays of light. The alliteration in “shadowy sides” also helps bring out a blurry image. One hasn’t even seen the creature clearly and hence only a vague image can be created.


The following lines depict the grandness and vast nature of the beast. It suggests that the creature is almost unreal and otherworldly which bring out the mythical aspect in the poem.


“Huge sponges of millennial growth and height” is exaggeration of course, but it brings out the vast nature of the creature, both in size and age. It insinuates that the creature has stayed in this position for a unreal amount of time that now sponges have started to grow on it. The exact location of the Kraken however is kept a unknown as the poem describes it as a “wondrous grot” and “secret cell”. It indicates that the Kraken has been alone and secluded from the rest of the world that give someone to believe that it is supernatural.


The huge nature of the being is again conveyed by the line “ battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep”. He feeds on these works unknowingly insinuates the abnormal power of the creature.


The last 3 lines of the poem hint at the biblical end of times. “ the latter fire” refers to judgement day and implies that an apocalypse may occur as the Kraken rises to the surface to reveal itself. When he does so it will simply die. This legend of the Kraken riding and dying used by Tennyson in this poem can also be interpreted metaphorically. The Kraken may represent men’s fears which are not always founded and when bought to light may easily die, leaving a sad emptiness and not relief in its place. Therefore, Tennyson depicts the powerful nature of the legend of the kraken and relates it to ones fears.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I’m reluctant to give you a mark out of 25 without being familiar with the specific marking criteria, but I can gladly offer you some feedback which, hopefully, you will find constructive.

In your response, you do lots of things very well. You engage with the set question, you use well-chosen quotations to support your points, and you also analyze different language techniques from those quotations. Your language analysis is also clearly explained and helpful, and you engage well with the ideas behind the text.

There are, however, some areas in which you might improve your work further. Your written expression in places might be more accurate, and your vocabulary more precise. For example, you write that the repetition of the word “far” emphasizes the depth and also the abysmal quality of the sea. This, so far, is good. However, you then write that this repetition has “negative connotations may imply that something bad is about to happen.” There is a connective missing between the words “connotations” and “may.” This part of the sentence should read, “negative connotations which may imply.” There are a few errors like this in your essay, which might easily be corrected with a more careful or more thorough proof-reading.

In the same part of the essay, you use the word “bad.” This word is rather broad and vague. It has many possible meanings and doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that you have a precise understanding of the meaning of the poem. If you can use a more precise word, this would help you to demonstrate that you have a precise, rather than vague, understanding of the poem. For example, perhaps you might replace the word “bad” with “dangerous,” “terrible,” or “devastating,” depending on which word best fits your own interpretation of the poem. You might also find it beneficial to re-read your essay, see which other words in your interpretations are a little vague, and replace them with more specific, precise words.

A second way in which I think you might improve your response is by focusing more often on key individual words from the quotations you use. For example, you have quoted the line: “battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep.” From this quotation, you might have singled out the word “worms” and written about the connotations of that word. Many people associate worms with death, owing to the fact that worms eat dead bodies. Worms, for most people, probably also connote dirt and unpleasantness. These interpretations of the word “worms” add to the interpretation of the overall image. The image becomes more visceral, more repellent, and more disturbing. Generally, it is a good idea to focus in on individual words like this, as it is a good way of demonstrating that you are able to understand the writer’s word choices to a very forensic, perceptive degree.

I hope you’ve found at least some of this feedback helpful, and I wish you good luck with your future essays.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial