"If the poets of the Victorian era had to be grouped round two central figures,one of these would be Tennyson and the other Browning."  Discuss with their noticeable works.This is the most...

"If the poets of the Victorian era had to be grouped round two central figures,one of these would be Tennyson and the other Browning."  Discuss with their noticeable works.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"The Lady of Shalott"-- Easily one of Tennyson's most well-known poems, "The Lady of Shalott" features the ideal Victorian woman, one who is virginal, focused on her womanly tasks, aloof from common society.  This poem also contains many Romantic elements such as the focus on nature, the value of love, and the search for freedom. 

"The Charge of the Light Brigade"-- Another one of Tennyson's most famous poems, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" tells the story of a heroic, but ill-advised charge, of the British Cavalry during the Crimean war.  Tennyson's poem glorifies patriotism but honestly portrays the horrific cost of war.

"Idylls of the King"-- Tennyson's take on Le Morte d'Arthur, "Idylls" is a collection of twelve poems, capturing the most famous of the characters from the Arthurian legends.  This collection is extremely representative of Victorian's interest in courtship and 'courtly love' as well as 'the ideal woman' (which Guinevere turns out NOT to be).


*All three of these poems by Tennyson are extremely emblematic of the poet's interest in the ideals of love and heroics, as well as his focus on natural world's relationship to man.  Tennyson is extremely representative of the Victorian poets, not only because of his Poet Laureate status, but also because of his portrayal of many Victorian ideals of style and subject.

Robert Browning

"My Last Duchess"--A powerful example of dramatic monologue, "My Last Duchess" tells the story of an egoistic duke who recounts the flaws of his former wife, who he may have had murdered. Browning's poem examines the psychology behind the duke's motives.

"The Ring and the Book"-- Browning's longest narrative poem, almost like a poem in novel length, "The Ring and the Book" tells the story of a murder trial set in Rome of a poor nobleman who is accused of murdering his wife and her parents.  "The Ring and the Book" was Browning's most popular work, perfectly capturing the poet's views on the role of truth and human perception in society.

*Both of these poems for Browning are extremely characteristic of his interest in human psychology  and motives as well as the flaws in human perception of events and truth. In my opinion, Browning may not epitomize the Victorian era the way that Tennyson's collective works do, but Browing is a central figure to Victorian poetics, not only because of his sweeping achievement with a work like "The Ring and the Book," but also because of his deep insight and uncanny portrayal of humanity.

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