Note 21 to Chapter 3 of the author's Tennyson's Major Poems, which Yale University Press published in 1975. It has been included in the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
Hunt called it an "appalling satire on the pseudo-aspirations of egotistical asceticism and superstition" (quoted in Ricks, p. 542). Valerie Pitt says its theme is "the corruption of self-cultivation" (Pitt, p. 122), a notion pursued at length in William E. Fredeman. Robert Langbaum, as usual, presents the other side of the coin, the case for "sympathy" and identification (Langbaum, p. 87). The tensions between the poem's "existing moment and its unmentioned outcome" are discussed by Christopher Ricks, Tennyson, pp. 107-111.
Last modified: 28 March 2001