In "Tithonus," how is the personality of the speaker revealed?
Tennyson's "Tithonus" is a dramatic monologue. The first person narrator is the mythological figure Tithonus who was granted eternal life but not eternal youth by Eos, the goddess of the dawn. The monologue addresses Eos in the second person. The nineteenth century audience reading this poem might have been familiar with the story from the Homeric Hymns.
As with the dramatic monologue in general, the personality of the speaker is not described by exposition but gradually revealed to the audience by the statements he makes and the attitudes found in his speech, although the focus of the poem is not so much the speaker's distinctive personality but his emotional reaction to his situation.
He was and still is deeply in love with Eos (Latin: Aurora), but as he grows old and she does not, he falls into melancholy. He begins to regret his desire to become immortal so as to be with Eos for eternity, seeing that desire as the arrogance of youth. As he has grown older, he has achieved greater self-knowledge and realization that mortals should not aspire to the condition of gods. He is generally portrayed as a sympathetic character, with empathy for Eos and the sorrow she feels at seeing him age.
The emotions of both Eos and Tithonus are revealed as much by physical description, such as the tears of Eos and the beauty of the dawn skies, as by abstract terms.