Study Guide

Break, Break, Break Setting

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

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We're at the seaside. Now, before you start imagining palm trees and white beaches, we should add that we're by the sea on a coast in England somewhere. The sea is gray, and the coast is rocky. Not a lot of beaches around here. The waves keep crashing, smashing, splashing against the rocks. It's not a deserted spot, by any means: there are fishermen, and their kids are playing. Sailors are singing while they work and ships are sailing by. Not so bad, right?

Wrong. It's all about the setting you bring with you, and our speaker is a very sad guy. He's mourning the death of his best friend, and until he comes to terms with that loss, all the great stuff at the seaside is totally wasted on him.

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