Right from the beginning of “Ulysses”, Tennyson introduces the well-known mythical character of Ulysses to the reader to give them an introduction to the character. In “The Village Schoolmaster” by Goldsmith, “Catrin” by Clarke and “Follower” by Heaney the theme of individuals is used, but it is expressed using different poetic techniques. In “Ulysses” the poem is written in four very distinct sections to give the poem a more structured feel. The first section describes Ulysses’ situation after he has returned from many Voyages.
“An idle king” and now feels the urge to travel again. The second section describes his many adventures and praises his own experience while deciding that he can’t sit still any longer – he must leave. The third section introduces the reader to Ulysses son Telemachus and describes to them how much of a better ruler Telemachus will make than Ulysses did. Finally, the fourth section sees Ulysses ready to set sail, “the vessel puffs her sail. ” “Catrin” is also written in definite sections, although in comparison to “Ulysses” there are only two.
The first is about Clarke giving birth to her daughter Catrin, while the second section describes her present day feelings of how Clarke and her daughter “trailing love and conflict” in a struggle to become separate. “Follower” too is written in sections, although this time there are many of them and these portray the many memories Heaney has of his father. In contrast to these poems, “The Village Schoolmaster” is not written in clear, definite sections and this is because the topic of the poem is the same the whole way through.
This makes the poem seem less defined and in a way as though the Goldsmith was writing the poem to convey a greater sense of meaning other than what is already expressed. All four poems also portray the theme of irony. In “Ulysses” for example Tennyson writes about Ulysses spending his whole life trying to get home from his travels, but now that he is home he gets bored and has the desire to travel again. In “Catrin”, there is a similar situation where Clarke and her daughter spend their lives trying to be apart from each other, but now that it has happened, they urge to be reunited together again.
The irony expressed in “Follower” is of a different kind and could also be expressed as a role reversal because Heaney has spent his whole life following his father, but now his father is following him. Finally, “The Village Schoolmaster” also has irony in it, but this again is expressed differently because there is not just one example continued throughout the poem, there are many little ones. For example, when Goldsmith writes, “in his noisy mansion,” he is describing the school which is not actually big, but as Goldsmith remembers it from when he was a child, the building probably seemed like a “mansion” to him.
Another example is when Goldsmith writes, “even though vanquished, he could argue still. ” This is ironic because the word vanquished is normally used when describing enemies, but Goldsmith uses it to describe a friendly argument taking place between a teacher and a vicar. In “Catrin” there is a distinct theme of parent-child relationships which grows until Catrin has a desire to be separate, and then comes back together when Clarke realises she can’t handle separation and has the desire to be back together again.
In “Ulysses”, the theme of parent-child relationships also occurs, but not in as much detail as we are only introduced to Telemachus in the third section of the poem. The relationship between the two is similar to in “Catrin” because Ulysses wants to be apart from his son and also develops a trust in him to be a great leader, which is not expressed in “Catrin”. Parent-child relationships is also a theme in “Follower” but like “Ulysses” is not one of the main themes. Like “Catrin” though the relationship is expressed as a memory instead of it being written recently as in “Ulysses”.
“The Village Schoolmaster” does not show any sign of containing parent-child relationships in contrast to the other three poems and although the poem is about people of two different generations they are not related. The theme of differences is also expressed in all four of the poems and is mainly expressed in “Ulysses” with the line, “He works his work, I mine. ” This tells us that Ulysses is a warrior and a sailor and does not make a good king where as Telemachus has all the correct qualities to make him an excellent king.
Differences are also expressed in the second half of “Catrin” where Clarke wants to keep Catrin safe, but Catrin wants to stay separate and “skate in the dark, for one more hour. ” Differences are also expressed in “Follower”, but not in as much detail because Heaney is trying to portray the irony in the poem. The main differences are that Heaney is not the physical man his father is and Heaney’s father enjoys his work, while Heaney enjoys poetry. In “The Village Schoolmaster” differences are also expressed and there is a big difference displayed between the teacher and his pupils.
Not only is this the age difference, but also the difference in maturity and knowledge between the teacher and pupils. “The Village Schoolmaster” is written in iambic pentameter to give a jolly feel, supporting the light-hearted mood of the poem. “Ulysses” is also written in iambic pentameter although this is not used to give a jolly feel, it is used to create a very fluent poem which is helped by the fact that the lines are not rhymed at the end, known as blank verse. “Catrin” also does not rhyme and this also is used to give the poem a more fluent feel.
In contrast, “Follower” is written using half rhyme making the poem discordant suiting the subject of the poem as Heaney doesn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and the rhymes don’t follow a regular pattern. Both “Catrin” and “Follower” are written from a first person perspective to give the reader a more in depth feel to the writers thoughts, memories and emotions, where as “The Village Schoolmaster” is written from a third person perspective to give the reader a sense of detachment from the teacher when it is being read.
In contrast to these, “Ulysses” is written as a dramatic monologue and this allows the poet to take advantage of the gap between what Ulysses wants the reader to know, and what Tennyson allows us to read between the lines, giving hints to extra information hidden in the poem. So although all four poems portray the theme of individuals, they are all expressed in very different ways, using very different techniques. It is interesting to see that some poets write about their own memories while some write about myths and both of these can be portrayed in many different forms.