The Speaker's Madness Manifested as Obsessions in Maud Essay

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The Speaker’s Madness Manifested as Obsessions in Maud Alfred Tennyson breaks away from the pastoral discourse that is typical of the Romantic Age and transcends into the Victorian Age with a poem full of obsession, madness, death, love, and patriotism in his creation of Maud. In Maud, the state of the speaker’s life and his mental health are called into question from the very beginning. The speaker’s initial mental state is one of madness, a melancholic, morbidity that has been influenced by the suicide of his father into a persona that is not perfect or happy, but a disturbed man with nothing to recommend him to a higher state. We see this morbid side immediately when he says, “I hate the dreadful hollow behind the little wood, / Its …show more content…
Tennyson’s introduction to the speaker gives us a straight forward look into his psyche as he laments over the death of his father, contemplates suicide, and agonizes over poverty, but his words seem like the ranting of a man who has experienced too much grief in his life. The hint of madness creeps into the verse once Maud enters the stanzas. She appears first as the memory that the speaker has nurtured. He shifts back and forth between thinking she is “the delight of the village” (I, 70) and then a “passionless, pale, cold face” (I, 91) of a woman who is haunting him. He spends eleven stanzas talking about her family, his own lack of funds, and ends with what seems a firm ending believing that she would not make him a good wife. He maintains: And most of all would I flee from the cruel madness of love, The honey of poison-flowers and all the measureless ill. Ah Maud, you milkwhite fanwn, you are all unmeet for a wife. (I, 156-158)
He sees then how dangerous it will be for him to fall in love with her, but starting with line 162 in Part I, Tennyson changes the meter, format, and rhyme to fit the swift change of mind that the speaker has toward Maud. His inner dialogue goes from an accusatory examination of Maud, to a flowery, complimentary narrative that completely disrupts the entire poem. The speaker declares, “Be still, for you only trouble the mind / …Not her, who is neither courtly nor kind, / Not her, not her, but a voice”

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