Enoch Arden

Enoch Arden (1864)

Poem: Enoch Arden ()
Published/Performed: 1864

Author: Alfred (Lord) Tennyson
Born: Aug 6, 1809 Somersby, Lincolnshire, England
Passed: Oct 6, 1892 Haslemere, Surrey, England

Film: My Favorite Wife
Released: 1940

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About the Poem Enoch Arden:

"Enoch Arden" is a narrative poem published in 1864 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (6 August 1809 ? 6 October 1892), during his tenure as England's Poet Laureate. The story on which it was based was provided to Tennyson by Thomas Woolner.

The hero of the poem, fisherman turned merchant sailor Enoch Arden, leaves his wife Annie and three children to go to sea with his old captain, who offers him work after he had lost his job due to an accident; in a manner that reflects the hero's masculine view of personal toil and hardship to support his family, Enoch Arden left his family to better serve them as a husband and father. However during his voyage, Enoch Arden is shipwrecked on a desert island with two companions; both eventually die, leaving Arden alone there. This part of the story is reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Enoch Arden remains lost and missing for ten years.

He finds upon his return from the sea that, after his long absence, his wife, who believed him dead, is married happily to another man, his childhood friend Philip (Annie has known both men since her childhood, thus the rivalry), and has a child by him. Enoch's life remains unfulfilled, with one of his children now dead, and his wife and remaining children now being cared for by his onetime rival.

Tragically Enoch does not ever reveal to his wife and children that he is really alive, he loves her too much to spoil her new happiness, and Enoch dies of a broken heart.

The story could be considered a variation on and antithesis to the Classical myth of Odysseus, who after an absence of 20 years at sea found a faithful wife who had been loyally waiting for him.

In the 1940 screwball comedy film My Favorite Wife, the character Ellen Wagstaff Arden (Irene Dunne) is a comic inversion of Enoch Arden. She returns from sea and boldly reclaims her husband and children. Cary Grant's character is called Nicky Arden. A remake called Something's Got to Give starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, and directed by George Cukor, was partly filmed in 1962 before being stopped due to Monroe's studio management problems and her subsequent death, but was shot and released the following year as Move Over, Darling, with Doris Day in the Dunne role and James Garner in the Cary Grant one.

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