Activity Versus Disengagement in Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” and “Tithonus”: A Gerontological View (79454)

Session Information: Aging and Arts
Session Chair: Afra Alshiban

Sunday, 26 May 2024 14:10
Session: Session 3
Room: Room 701
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

In the 1960s and 1970s, gerontologists made considerable progress in the study of old age and aging via clinical research. Their work illuminates the experience of growing old, including lifestyle issues in declining years, cognitive development and wisdom, relationships between generations, and the elderly as mythical figures. Currently, professionals from diverse fields, including the literary, also noted this neglected segment of the population and made valuable contributions to the study of old age. Writers, for example, began to create mature protagonists and to focus on gerontological issues such as Alzheimer’s, loss, loneliness, fear, and faith. Literary critics likewise payed homage to senior citizens by celebrating the literary imagination of aging authors. Hence, in line with this surge of interest in the old and aging, the present study addresses the experience in two dramatic monologues by the Victorian poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), “Ulysses” (1842) and “Tithonus” (1860). Both explore the issue of continued activity versus disengagement. In “Tithonus,” the changes associated with growing old strongly influence the speaker; aging is a process of destruction, degradation, and deterioration. By contrast, in “Ulysses,” the speaker shows little concern for his physical transformation, perceiving growing old as an opportunity for further development and growth. Both speakers face the choices of activity or inertia; their eventual decisions reveal Tennyson’s remarkable insight into the psychology of old age. Tennyson’s treatment of the topic transcends disciplinary divisions between literature and gerontology and deserves recognition.

Afra Alshiban, Al Imam University, Saudi Arabia

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Afra Alshiban is a University Professor/Principal Lecturer at Al Imam University in Saudi Arabia

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00