The Strong Willed Man
“Ulysses” by Tennyson concerns Ulysses, an ancient Greek King of Ithaca and a warrior hero. After the Trojan War ends, Ulysses is forced to wander for ten years by the Greek Gods before he can come home. He has been gone for twenty years when he returns home. Ulysses has been King of Ithaca for three years. Ulysses desires a life of independence, physical adventure, and intellectual pursuit.
Ulysses desires a life of independence. Ulysses wants to escape the confines of Kingly responsibility in a land that is dependent on him. He does not want to have the responsibility to bring a higher level of civilization “unto a savage race, /That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.” He wants to live life to the fullest without having to look back. He feels that his people do not understand the kind of person he really is. Ulysses believes his talents are not getting the use they should be getting. For that, he feels that he is rusting as he says, “To rust unburnished, not to shine in use.” Ulysses would; “Leave the scepter and isle” to his son, Telemachus. He feels that there is still work for him, but not “among the barren crags” of Ithaca.
Ulysses desires a life of physical adventure. Remembering the past, he “roamed with a hungry heart,” always seeking adventure; and seeing many different “cities of men.” Ulysses recalls the times he has “enjoyed/Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those/That loved me, and alone.” He thinks about all of that he has confronted, “The thunder and the sunshine.”
Ulysses knows that little of his life still remains that “life piled on life,” one life after another, “were all too little.” Ulysses knows he is old, but one is still alive until “Death closes all.” He desires to accomplish something to end on to complete “Some work of noble note,” an adventure “Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.” Ulysses desires to set sail again, to be adventurous one more time, not to be a “Grey...