Study Guide

The Lotos-Eaters Man and the Natural World

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Man and the Natural World

"The Lotus-eaters" is all about a place. Sure, it deals with feelings and legends and wacky plants, but it spends a lot of time just describing the enchanted land of the Lotos-eaters. We hear all about the valleys and streams and waterfalls, as well as the calm, dreamy, tropical mood of the place, setting the stage for the song of the sailors. We don't really meet any individual characters in this poem, so in a way, the place itself becomes a kind of character. And Lotus land is one strange character…

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does the land of the Lotos-eaters sound like somewhere you'd want to go? Are there particular descriptions of the landscape that sound really tempting? If so, what?
  2. Does the natural world seem like a character in this poem? If so, is it good or evil, a hero or a villain? How can you tell?
  3. What is it about the landscape the appeals to the sailors? What parts of the poems support your ideas?
  4. Why do you think we get so many specific (sometimes even repetitive) details about the land of the Lotos-eaters? What do all those details do for the poem?

Chew on This

The repetition of basic details about the natural world helps to lull the reader into a kind of trance, giving us a feel for the strange and magical place the sailors have wandered into. We're… getting… sleepy…

The apparent beauty of nature in this poem just covers up a seething evil. The natural world of this poem is set up to entrap and destroy the men who come into contact with it. Now who's relaxed?

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