Tennyson felt that an essential part of the human predicament is quality of endurance. He believed that “the need for going forward, and braving the struggle of life" is a critical part of human identity. This construction underscores Tennyson's view of Ulysses in the poem.
The poem centers on an exploration of the Greek warrior after his return to Ithaca. Making the transition from the life of war and challenge to the civilian life is shown to be a difficult reality. Tennyson's Greek hero challenges the idea of the "idle king." This vision is one who "cannot rest from travel." From this exposition, Odysseus is shown to eagerly anticipate the uncertainty of voyage, repudiating the life of staying at home in a domesticated fashion. "Always roaming with a hungry heart," Tennyson's poem explores how human beings must embrace freedom and the sojourn at all costs. Even when there might not be a guarantee of success, the spirit of vitality that defines the human spirit is illuminated throughout the poem and within Tennyson's construction of Ulysses. The search for truth is something that cannot be removed, even through the domestic life. While he has come home, some part of his voyage has been imprinted on his own being and cannot be denied:
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fadesFor ever and forever when I move.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'We are not now that strength which in old daysMoved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;