‘The real subject of this great poem is the British Empire.’
there are broader problems for Tennyson in fusing the qualities of a mythic hero with those of a Victorian gentleman. His assumptions about manhood as a repudiation of “natural” bestiality preclude his adoption of a model that would incorporate anything like Charles Kingsley’s positive “animal spirits” that inform “both martial vigor and sexual potency” in men (Adams, p. 108). Swinburne, with his remark about “Morte d’Albert,” was of course making a comment not only about Tennyson’s obvious intention to associate Arthur with the Prince Consort but also about the values clustered around the ideal of bourgeois respectability, an ideal which ‘had gained increased status by contemporary associations with the monarchy. In the “Dedication” Tennyson refers to Albert as “modest, kindly, all-accomplished, wise, / With what sublime repression of himself” (ll. 17-18). These qualities are consistent with the dominant image of the Victorian gentleman as well as his predecessor, the chivalrous knight
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