English 3414: Suggested Paper topics

Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Victorian Web; Faculty of Education, LakeheadUniversity (Canada)

Each topic is intended to let the student demonstrate his or her own critical capacities and research abilities; accordingly, some reference to secondary sources (such as works of criticism) is expected. No two students may write on precisely the same topic.

1. "We all have our Achilles' heel which allows us as readers to get caught up in a clichë or melodrama and to see it as profound insight. Our desire to escape from the difficult issues of life helps to explain why we can read some poems with forgetful pleasure and others only as a result of compulsion," as, for example, assigned readings in a post-secondary English course. Develop or modify this thesis with specific references to two of the major works of poetry studied in this course.

2. As Matthew Arnold remarks in "On Translating Homer,"

Our life, in Homer's view of it represents a conflict and a hell; and it brings out, too, what there is tonic and fortifying in this doctrine.

Show how Arnold's sense of this Homeric view of human experience pervades "Sohrab and Rustum."

3. Matthew Arnold in "On Translating Homer" assesses Homer's Iliad as

Not only rapid in movement, simple in style, plain in language, natural in thought; he is also, and above all, noble.

Show how Arnold has adapted Homer's nobility of expression, including the functional or dramatic use of the extended simile, in "Sohrab and Rustum."

4. Matthew Arnold in "On Translating Homer" discusses the "grand style" necessary for epic and epyllion:

The best model of the grand style simple is Homer; perhaps the best model of the grand style severe is Milton. But Dante is remarkable for affording admirable examples of both styles; he has the grand style which arises from simplicity, and he has the grand style which arises from severity.

Perhaps with close analyses of selected passages from Homer, Milton, and Dante, assess which form of the "grand style" Arnold is using in "Sohrab and Rustum."

5. In "Maurice de Guérin" (Essays in Criticism, First Series), Matthew Arnold defines the interpretive power of poetry as follows:

Not a power of drawing out in black and white an explanation of the mystery of the universe, but the power of so dealing with things as to awaken in us a wonderfully full, new, and intimate sense of them, and of our relations with them. When this sense is awakened in us, as to objects without [i.e., outside] us, we feel ourselves to be in contact with the essential nature of those objects, to be no longer bewildered and oppressed by them, but to have their secret, and to be in harmony with them. . . .

Apply this passage to several of Arnold's shorter poems studied in this course.

6. In "Maurice de Guérin" (Essays in Criticism, First Series), Matthew Arnold asserts that there are two aspects to the interpretive power of poetry:

It interprets by expressing with magical felicity the physiognomy and movement of the outward world, and it interprets by expressing, with inspired conviction, the ideas and laws of the inward world of man's moral and spiritual nature. In other words, poetry is interpretive both by having natural magic in it, and by having moral profundity.

Show how the poetry of Tennyson and/or Browning possesses both qualities.

7.With respect to Matthew Arnold's style in "Sohrab and Rustum," A. Dwight Culler in Poetry and Criticism of Matthew Arnold (Boston: Riverside, 1961) comments: "looking forward to his lectures "On Translating Homer," one may say that he also considered it a sample of how to render the Homeric style into English" (Letters, I, 30, cited on page 554).

Compare Arnold's handling of the Homeric style in "Sohrab and Rustum" to that of another writer of secondary epic, such as Virgil (Aeneid) or Milton (Paradise Regained).

8. In 1859, utilizing resources provided him by Carlyle, Dickens wrote a historical novel set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. How does Carlyle's description of the fall differ in both style, narrative technique, and content from that which Dickens gives in Book Two, Chapter 21, of A Tale of Two Cities? Use as a standard of accuracy an accepted twentieth-century work on the fall of the Bastille.

9. "No previous social order in history had seen such rapid and revolutionary mutation as the Victorians saw unfolding before their astonished eyes" (William F. Roe, Victorian Prose [New York: Ronald Press, 1947] p. xiii). Hence, to Carlyle's readers in the late 1830s and early 1840s social change would have been at once terrifying and exhilarating. How does he convey this self-contradictory attitude towards social change in The French Revolution and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History?


"History was not a 'stop-and-go' process in which advance waited upon particular events, but a natural and organic development in which each age was the child of the previous one; and since the contrast between contemporary civilization and its small and inferior beginnings seemed obvious, the development was plainly one of progress." (Walter E. Houghton, "Emotional Attitudes and Optimism," The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870 [New Haven: Yale U. P., 1957], page 29.

Carlyle, contends Houghton, conceived of human advancement spiritually and intellectually as a "progressive unfolding" or an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary progress. What grounds for optimism, for a more reasonable and just society, does one find in Chapters 6 and 7 of the first book of The French Revolution and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History?

11. Compare Carlyle's style and accuracy of reportage in "The Fall of the Bastille" (Chapters 6 and 7 of The French Revolution) with those of a reputable historian and those of Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.

12. In "The Voice of Prophecy: Carlyle and Ruskin," E. D. Mackerness speaks of "the clamorous manner in which the author enforces attention rom the reader by acting as interlocutor, private counsellor, and vates in quick succession" (From Dickens to Hardy, ed. Boris Ford [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958], page 299). Show how Carlyle adopts each of these "voices" in Chapters 6 and 7 of the first book of The French Revolution and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History.

13. In "The Voice of Prophecy: Carlyle and Ruskin," E. D. Mackerness describes Carlyle's sense of history in Manichaean terms:

The conception of life as a prolonged holy war between the powers of light and darkness inhibited Carlyle from giving external nature the kind of detailed consideration called for as of right by moral issues. (From Dickens to Hardy, ed. Boris Ford [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958], page 300).

Carlyle, however, fervently believed in heroism, in loyalty and self-sacrifice in the face adversity. Show how his Manichaeanism and conception of heroism inform Chapters 6 and 7 of the first book of The French Revolution and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History.

14. Departing from its previous associations with a lover's complaint, the elegy from the seventeenth century in English literature has tended to concern itself with consolation over the death of a particular person (for example, Tennyson's In Memoriam, 1850). However, the elegy may include somber meditations about the transitory nature of human existence and of things people value (for example, Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," 1751). The dirge, on the other hand, expresses grief on the occasion of someone's death, is much briefer and less formal, and is often designed to be sung. Show how each of the following works conforms to the conventions of either the elegy or the dirge, but offers unique insights into the human condition: Stevenson, "Requiem"; Brontë, "Song"; Tennyson, In Memoriam; Christina Rossetti, "Song"; and Robert Browning, "A Toccata of Galuppi's."

15. Although the watchword of the avant-garde Pre-Raphaelites seems to have been "Back to Nature!", each member of the movement had his or her own particular issues with form and content: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, for example, was concerned with the theme of baffled or frustrated sensual passion, George Meredith with pantheism, Christina Rossetti with religious devotion, and William Morris with dissecting savagery and violent action. Discuss one representative poem by each of these writers in order to formulate the meaning of "Pre-Raphaelitism" as it applies to nineteenth-century verse.


"The Nature of Gothic" was reprinted and circulated as a pamphlet for working-class readers in England. "It is Ruskin's call for a society based on free, creative labor--a resistance to the stupefying, dehumanizing redundancy of industrial work. The most deliberate target of attack is mechanical repetition." (Caroline Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense [2003], 31)

How does Ruskin use Gothic architecture to argue against the enslavement of workers?

18. In "The Nature of Gothic," of the six moral elements that Ruskin feels characterize the Gothic, why does he give more attention to naturalism than any of the others? What is the connection between representations of nature and liberating, soul-fulfilling work?

19. Ruskin in "The Nature of Gothic" denounces both soulless, mechanical repetition of forms but also traditional images "not only because they are false and conventional, but because they fail to celebrate one particular fact, one truth, that nature offers. That fact is nature's boundless diversity." (Caroline Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense [2003], 33)

With specific reference to "The Nature of Gothic," show how Ruskin both embraces the art of the Gothic craftsman and denounces stultifying, mechanical repetition. How does Ruskin argue that artistic reproduction of natural forms is superior to the mechanical production of unnatural forms?

20. Ruskin was a Pre-Raphaelite in that he argued that in Gothic art "we find the ideal type of human work: it unites mind and body, intellectual and manual labour, individual freedom and the needs of the community" (Levin, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense, 32). How does Ruskin argue that emulating the Gothic will liberate the modern factory worker? How consistent are his views about dignified versus undignified labour with the central tenets of Marxism?

21. Levine argues that "our dangerous cultural inheritance is a set of repetitive conventions so deep that the human mind . . . opts for repetition rather than variety. Thus the only way to resist this repetition, according to Ruskin, is to go to nature" (31). How does Ruskin propose that we "go to nature" to free ourselves from the stultifying effects of orthodoxy and conventional thought?


"Simply to see the truths of nature demands the laborious act of setting aside our habits of mind--centuries of received opinion, repetitive custom, and cultural passivity--in order to practice thinking, which leads us to active skepticism, infinite irregularity, and revolutionary freedom." (Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense, 36)

Explain briefly how Ruskin regards the study of nature as laborious, and intellectually empowering, then compare his implicit message about the value of "active skepticism" to Pater's concerns with "epistemological skepticism, the relation between subject and object, and the problem of representation" (Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense, 183).

23. Whereas Ruskin regarded the art of the mediaeval period as natural, various, and liberating, Pater felt that "the religious system of the Middle Ages imposed [limits] on the heart and the imagination" ("Preface" to The Renaissance). "While Ruskin appealed to the realities of the natural world as the ground of truth for representation, Pater moves back and forth from one to another without allowing the process to come to rest" (Levine 184). Contrast Ruskin's and Pater's solutions t

In "The Nature of Gothic" in particular and throughout The Stones of Venice in general, John Ruskin seems to anticipate the socialism of William Morris in positing "a radical alternative to factory labor . . . . One of Morris's disciples, John Bruce Glasier, later chairman of the Independent Labour Party, named Ruskin as one of the writers whose work was giving 'fitful expression' to nascent socialist thought midcentury." (Caroline Levine, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense [2003], 31)

How may one utilize "The Nao what Levine terms "the problem of truth" (184).


Both Ruskin and Pater utilize comparisons to advance their arguments. "As in Ruskin's experiments, Pater's comparisons play back and forth between two objects to determine their correspondences and differences: but unlike Ruskin's plots, Pater celebrates the back and forth movement of comparison itself, interested in the ways that each side illuminates the other." (Levine 185)

Compare and contrast Ruskin's and Pater's use of simile, metaphor, and analogy with specific reference to "The Nature of Gothic" and the "Preface" to The Renaissance.

25. Read the following criticism of 19th journalism, which appeared in The Sphynx (London) 8 July 1827, and apply it scrupulously to the articles that appeared in one or two issues of Charles Dickens's Household Words:

"Accordingly, it is found that since numbers is the great desideratum, the tastes of all classes must be suited: public opinion must not be led, but followed. There must be but little of profound political discussion, and still less of refined literary criticism, because the really intellectual among mankind are so comparatively few; but there must be abundant records of crimes, in all their horrid deformities--of accidents in all their painful details--of daily brawls and nightly revels among the lowest of mankind--of sporting matches, fights, elopements, frauds--and every description of personal and private history, from the dinners and routs of the haut ton to the watch-house adventures of rakes and bullies, and the morbid sentimentality of debauchees and villains expiating their offences at the gallows." (Cited in R. K. Webb, "The Victorian Reading Public," From Dickens to Hardy, ed. Boris Ford [1958] 222)

26. John Ruskin postulated that the unique position of women in the Victorian family rendered them more capable of feeling than men. "As the centres of Victorian domestic life, women were expected to defer their own desires and work toward the fulfillment of others', and the name given that generalized identification was frequently sympathy" (Audrey Jaffe, "Introduction," Scenes of Sympathy: Identity and Representation in Victorian Fiction [2000] 17). Apply this concept of feminine "sympathy" and "deferment" to Browning's "My Last Duchess," Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott," and Hardy's "Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?"

27. In "The Silent Listener in Browning's 'My Last Duchess'," Glenn Everett remarks:

Hazard Adams points out that sympathy does not seem to be the right word for our relationship to the Duke (151-52), and Philip Drew protests that suspending our moral judgment should not require "an anaesthetizing of the moral sense for the duration of the poem" (28). Langbaum is right that the intellectual exercise of inferring the real character of the last Duchess from what the Duke says about her to the envoy and then going on to make a moral judgment about him constitutes a large part of our enjoyment of the poem, but that enjoyment is not dependent upon our entering into sympathy with the Duke.

Compare how Browning manipulates and directs the reader's sympathies in "My Last Duchess" and one other dramatic monologue.

28. Robin Mayhead in "The Poetry of Tennyson" (From Dickens to Hardy, ed. Boris Ford [1958] 231) asserts that "Ulysses" is a "decided success" because it possesses a "declamatory eloquence and naturalness" probably derived from the great speeches in Books I and II of Milton's Paradise Lost: pursue that comparison, determining the extent of Tennyson's debt to Milton in the dramatic monologue "Ulysses."

29. Tennyson's "The Lotus-Eaters" pursues what Robin Mayhead in "The Poetry of Tennyson" terms "The theme of withdrawal from an uncongenial world, of escape either to death or, more often, to an ideal dream world, . . . an important consideration in his work (From Dickens to Hardy, ed. Boris Ford [1958] 232). Compare Tennyson's handling of this theme in "The Lotus-Eaters" with that in ONE other Tennyson poem on the course.


Robert Browning is his essay about Shelley implies his own kinship with Shakespeare, whom he regarded as the supreme objective poet of the English language; in the advertisement for Dramatic Lyrics (1842), Browning described his dramatic monologues as "lyric in expression, [but] always Dramatic in principle" (cited by Trilling and Bloom, The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Victorian Prose and Poetry, 493).

Compare the lyric and dramatic aspects of a well-known Shakespeare soliloquy with those same aspects of "The Bishop Orders His Tomb. . . ."

31. Trilling and Bloom in The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Victorian Prose and Poetry dismiss Browning's "dramatic technique," asserting that his monologues are neither "dramatic" nor "monologues," but "lyrical and subjective, despite their coverings and gestures. . . ." The editors describe Browning's poems as "antiphons in which many voices speak" (494). Apply their criticism to "Soliloquy in a Spanish Cloister" and "Andrea del Sarto."

32. Houghton and Stange have identified Matthew Arnold's "most genuine and insistent emotion" as "the sense of blight, weariness, and futility; and consequently his finest poetry is one of personal depression, in which 'ennui' is combined with delicate description whenever he turns for relief to the peace and beauty of nature" (391). Apply this assessment to "The Buried Life" and "Dover Beach."

33. The poetry of Thomas Hardy, remarks Ross C. Murfin, reflects the poet's conviction that a human being "can never transcend, avoid, or reverse the process that time, chance, and nature determine" (Swinburne, Hardy, Lawrence, and the Burden of Belief [1978], 105). Show how this theme of mortality and inexorable mutability informs three of the Hardy lyrics studied in this course.

34. In In Memoriam, composed over a seventeen-year period, Tennyson attempts to describe man's relationship to God and nature as he responds to the religious doubts that modern science provoked within him. Show how these issues shape the development of that long poem by a detailed consideration of an early, middle, and late section of the work.

35. Although both Browning dealt with the realm of myth and the heroic past, Tennyson's treatment tends to be parochial, sentimental, and wistful, as in "The Lady of Shalott" and "The Idylls of the King," whereas Browning's treatment transfers contemporary concerns, such as the conflict between faith and doubt and the functions of the artist in modern life, to the past, offering psychological insight rather than euphonic lyric, following a speaker's mental processes as the mind jumps from one cluster of associations to another, as in "A Toccata of Galuppi's" and "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came."

Evaluate the above comparison, referring to the four poems mentioned.


In his middle and later poems Browning was much concerned with the problem of action and with the evil of rejecting the potentialities life offers us. The characters who demonstrate the possibility of good action are strivers . . . who may not accomplish anything worthy of note, but who have given themselves utterly to the vital struggle. (W. E. Houghton and G. R. Stange, Victorian Poetry and Poetics [1968] xxii).

Discuss "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" and one relevant Browning poem in conjunction with this analysis.


Between the extremes of youth and age stands King Arthur, the poet's most ambitious and contrived attempt to invest a literary protagonist with the widest ethical significance, to conceive him as at once modern and eternal, "ideal manhood clothed in real man." . . . . Arthur, in spite of the earnest ingenuity that went into his fabrication, is more literary and unconvincing than the melodramatic boy of "Locksley Hall." (W. E. Houghton and G. R. Stange, Victorian Poetry and Poetics [1968] xxi).

Discuss the above with reference to Tennyson's "Morte d' Arthur" and "Locksley Hall."


The unity of In Memoriam is not immediately apparent, nor is it a product of expository statement; the rational argument of the poem would not stand up as a philosophical essay. The sense of wholeness which it gives is achieved by poetic means, by reiterated motifs, recurrent images, and chiefly, the gradually developed theme of death and regeneration which may be said to subsume the numerous and diverse topics of the poet's speculation. (W. E. Houghton and G. R. Stange, Victorian Poetry and Poetics [1968] 6).

Show how the poem thematically moves from despair and alienation towards hope and integration, asserting that the new life that is forever born out of the old, by offering a detailed consideration of an early, middle, and late section of In Memoriam.


Hardy's best poems transcend the mere illustration of the perversity of fate, whose effects can be merely ironic or utterly disastrous. Rather, Hardy presents "with quiet gravity and a carefully controlled elegiac feeling some aspect of human sorrow or loss or frustration or regret, always projected through a particular, fully realized situation" (Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th edn., p. 2206).

Discuss this analysis with reference to any three Hardy poems studied in this course.


"Whereas Browning's poems always play off the speaker [persona] against a historical context the knowledge of which he assumes he shares with the reader, [William] Morris's speakers occupy a wasteland of disorder and violence which the reader understands little more than they do." Carol T. Christ, Victorian and Modern Poetics (Chicago and London: U. Chicago P., 1986), 28-9.

Apply Christ's analysis to Morris's "The Haystack in the Floods" and one dramatic monologue by Robert Browning.

41. Swinburne, contends Carol T. Christ, developed his own dramatic monologues from his appreciation of Tennyson's:

"He takes the speakers of his poems from the worlds of myth rather than history. The poems contain little narrative dimension, but use the character's situation to explore some extraordinary emotion. Like Tennyson, Swinburne uses the resources of sound as a narcotic and a minimal progression within the poem to depict some informing obsession shaping the speaker's world. Nonetheless, the two use the mythological narrative that they invoke to quite different effects." (Victorian and Modern Poetics, 29)

Apply Christ's remarks to Tennyson's "Tithonus" and Swinburne's "A Forsaken Garden."

42. Of Thomas Hardy's tendency to employ coined words and archaisms, W. E. Houghton and G. R. Stange in Victorian Poetry and Poetics remark that

Sometimes the coinings are awkward and ponderous, but more often when the language, plain as well as strange, is tested in the poem it is found to be functional. . . . . one sometimes feels a deliberate straining for effect, a cultivation of the ugly word or the irregular line, simply to be different; but on the whole the roughness of Hardy's verse is the natural and right medium for his somber view of the human situation. (782)

Apply their remarks about the diction and "roughness" of Hardy's verse to three of the Hardy poems studied in this course.


"One can trace back almost every aspect of Morris' thought to Ruskin's ideas. We find in both men the combination of romantic medievalism with a strong concern for social justice; an emphasis on individual labor and the value of craft activity; the conception of the sense of beauty as the only elevating factor in modern life; and above all, the rejection of modern civilization for an idealized past which was ostensibly historical, but which was more often the image of perfection of being, of an ideal world of the imagination posed against the hideous metropolitan reality of Victorian England." (Victorian Poetry and Poetics, 584)

Apply this assessment of the "mediaevalism" of Morris and Ruskin to such works as "The Haystack in the Floods" and The Stones of Venice.

44. Although the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins was first published in 1918 and he exerted considerable influence of the poets of the thirties, he was born in London in 1844 and his work expresses some of the main tendencies of Victorian poetic practice. In his Notebooks, he wrote that "Poetry is speech framed for contemplation of the mind by way of hearing, or speech framed to be heard for its own sake and interest over and above its interest of meaning" (cited in Houghton and Stange, 663).

Assess Hopkins's poetry for its modern and Victorian characteristics, applying Hopkins's conception of the "oral" nature of poetry to his work, as represented by "The Windhover" and at least one other poem by Hopkins.


"Among the poets . . . one topic that links their writings together is love, for love, despite the reputed strain of puritanism in the age, is as prominent in Victorian poetry as it had been in the time of John Donne" (Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th edn., p. 1906).

Arnold, D. G. Rossetti, Meredith, Morris, and of course Elizabeth Barrett Browning are some of the poets that spring to mind when this subject is mentioned in conjunction with the Victorian period, even if their handling of the theme diverges from the conventional carpe diem of the Renaissance.

Show how Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the sonnet "How Do I Love Thee" (full of her characteristic fervent moral sensibility) and at least ONE other Victorian poet have dealt with this theme in an unconventional manner.

46. In Tennyson's early poetry such as "Mariana," according to R. L. Flaxman,

Visually oriented materials . . . serve simultaneously to illuminate the object being described and the sensibility perceiving it. "The Kraken," on the other hand, is a fine early example of Tennyson's interest in visionary poetry. A fourth level of complexity for visually oriented description–-visual images that appeal simultaneously to sensuous and intellectual understanding (such as Metaphysical poetry)–-will appear much later in Tennyson's poetry . . . . (Victorian Word Painting and Narrative [1983] 78)

Discuss the development of Tennyson's visual descriptions in "Mariana," "The Kraken," and "The Lady of Shalott," showing how in the latter poem word-painting is associated with underlying psychological and narrative truths.

47. According to R. L. Flaxman,

"'The Lady of Shalott' represents Tennyson's most concentrated recounting of a fairy-tale narrative in four brief sections. Again, he relies primarily on the visual sense, but augments this with the auditory" (Victorian Word Painting and Narrative [1983] 85).

Explicate the fairy-tale characteristics of the poem by reference to such classics as Grimms' and Perrault's, noting how Tennyson's imagery is or is not consistent with imagery found in such tales.

48. Although Ian Bradley asserts that

"Gilbert and Sullivan [will] continue to shine in each other's reflected light for another hundred years" (The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan [1996] xi),

such topical satire tends to be "of an age" rather than "for all time." With reference to three of the comic songs studied in this course, examine the question of whether their work will be of lasting popularity, referring to the time-bound versus universal aspects of the satire in the lyrics.

Other topics may be formulated with the assistance of the instructor, depending on the student's interests and other English courses taken. However, the instructor will require time to google any proposed topic to assure himself that it is not merely viable but that it has not already been dealt with in-depth online or in print-medium criticism.

49. The conflict between faith and doubt is well illustrated by Tennyson's In Memoriam, which balances references to natural science and geologic time with those to the Bible. How do such allusions to the Old and New Testaments inform Tennyson's discussion o the 19th-century "crisis of faith"? Henry Van Dyke in Studies in Tennyson (1920, rpt., 1966:  British Library Catalogue no. PR 5588 V24) actually lists ALL of Tennyson's biblical allusions.

50. Tennyson's shorter poems often reveal his profoundly melancholy view of life, but also reflect his intention to "work through his deep depression" to find not merely a reason to go on living but the motivation to be an artist addressing the deepest concerns of the age. Although some of Tennyson's best poetry expresses a sense of isolation, or separateness from society, it also reveals his desire to speak for and to that society.

Illustrate the truth of these remarks with respect to three of Tennyson's shorter works.

51. In The Epic's introductory dialogue between a poet (Hall) and his friend (Francis), "Tennyson touches on two of the stimuli that in his conception of the tradition drive poets to the idyllBthe sense that everything has already been done and the need, in spite of this, to go forward." (Robert Pattison, Tennyson and Tradition [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U. P., 1979], 66)

Tennyson himself seems to ask in that poem,

Why take the style of those heroic times?
For nature brings not back the Mastadon . . . . [lines 35-36]

Compare Tennyson's handling of the form of heroic poem in a work such as "Morte d’Arthur" to that of Matthew Arnold in "Sohrab and Rustum," noting how they have attempted to make an archaic genre socially as well as poetically relevant for Victorian readers.

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Last modified 19 March 2005