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Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth$
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Jayne Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474436878

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474436878.001.0001

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Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse

Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse

(p.121) Chapter 4 Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse
Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth

Jayne Thomas

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines Tennyson’s Maud, published in 1855. The poem was met with sustained criticism, not least because of its ‘innovatory’ form, a ‘drama in lyrics’ as Tennyson himself terms it. Maud displays a variety of influences, including, most conspicuously, Hamlet, and a variety of metrical forms, in its attempt to render the speaker’s successive phases of passion; the latter include ballad, heroic couplet, alexandrines, and epithalamion. It has also been claimed that Maud, Tennyson’s first non-occasional poem as Laureate, is the result of an Oedipal rivalry with Wordsworth, largely as a result of his inheritance of the Laureateship in 1850. However, Wordsworth’s presence in Maud is more complex than Harold Bloom’s somewhat monolithic model would allow, creating a multiplicity of effects: some borrowings allow Tennyson to remodulate Wordsworth, allowing him to define himself in relation to his predecessor; others define him in turn, underlining the trajectory of the poem and questioning its narrative form; others allow Tennyson to address issues which the poem ostensibly avoids; yet others allow Tennyson to question his role as public poet and as poet of ‘sensation’.

Keywords:   Tennyson, Wordsworth, Maud, Drama in lyrics, Oedipal rivalry, Bloom, Public poet, Poetry of sensation, Narrative form

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