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Ulysses

Ulysses

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Perseverance Theme

Ulysses is an untamed spirit, and nothing is going to stop him; he's got a disease, and the only cure is to keep traveling, to keep moving on. It's not that his life in Ithaca isn't good; there's a voice inside his head that tells him his life is synonymous with perseverance, and that he should continue to see as many places as he can before he dies so he can get the most out of life. He's determined to persevere against the lures of domestic tranquility, even if it kills him.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. We tend to admire perseverance. Is Ulysses' perseverance admirable?
  2. When might perseverance be a bad thing?
  3. Is there anything you care strongly enough about that you'd be willing to risk death to keep doing it?
  4. How would you feel if you wanted to persevere in something but were forced to stop for no apparent reason?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Ulysses sounds heroic and gung-ho, but his perseverance is compromised by the fact that he doesn't even know where he's going, what he's striving against, and what he's looking for.

Ulysses should persevere in his responsibilities as a king, father, and husband rather than sailing around the world.

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