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A Hero Among Men A Man Among Heroes The name Ulysses instantly conjures up images of heroism and adventure Even modern readers who are less versed in classical literature recognize the larger-than-life character if not the specific details of this legend It is with these associations in mind that one approaches the poetic monologue Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson Tennyson hwoever presents the reader with a man rather than a hero The Ulysses of his imagination is restless rather than self-satisfied and irresponsible and selfish rather than altruistic This Ulysses harbors unrepentant contempt for his home and mostly for the people who have cheered him on and anxiously awaited his return from battles Yet in spite of his faults indeed because of his faults Ulysses posesses the venerant power of inspiration Were he entirely flawless he would be out of the realm of the readers experience and though we would admire him we would not see ourselves in him as we do in Tennysons poem Ulysses human strengths despite his many weaknesses embodies the will and ability of man and the audiences awe-inspired response to his monologue demonstrates the desire of man to elevate and admire the individual who achieves greatness through determination and hard work The initial contrast between myth and man comes within the first few lines Ulysses does not gracefully acquiesce to the duties of old age as every person must eventually do instead he whines like a spoiled child Nothing suits his taste his homeland is too barren his wife too old He treats his loyal subjects whom he ought to rule with the wisdom that should be learned over the years with such disrespect and shameful disregard that one might think that they had done some grave disservice to Ulysses to earn such a reputation in the eyes of the king He describes his subjects as a savage race That hoard and sleep and feed and
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