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Compare and Contrast 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' with 'Dulce ET Decorum Est.'

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' with 'Dulce ET Decorum Est.' The Charge of the Light Brigade is written by Lord Alfred Tennyson and describes the tragedy of six hundred heroic men on 25 October 1854.. We get the impression it was an Officer of high rank who relayed this story to the poet due to the constant detailed strategy. The second poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, is written by Wilfred Owen, detailing a scene from World War 1. This poem details the cruel suffering these heroic men experienced seen through the eyes of the Commanding Officer on scene. There are 60 years between these two poems which is immediately obvious with cannons and sabres in The Charge of the Light Brigade and the use of gas in Dulce et Decorum Est. Although these two poems are 60 years apart, the horrors and tragedies are similar but it is the poets who paint them in different colours. Lord Alfred Tennyson paints his poem in radiant colours with shining brass as this elite British cavalry force attempt to recapture the guns. They are proudly and heroically charging as a unit "Flashed all their sabres bare" into a situation that we, the reader, know can only end in tragedy and suffering. Wilfred Owen's palette consists of the more murky colours of mud and blood running into each other detailing the actual suffering of the individual soldiers as it happens. There is a fast, charging pace in Lord Tennyson's poem with a rhythmic beat which helps set the scene. In contrast, Wilfred Owen's poem is more descriptive and slow in pace which helps the reader to understand the suffering of the individuals. The Charge of the Light Brigade is based on a episode of the Crimean War which took place on the 25 October 1854. The Light Brigade was an elite British cavalry force, made up of 630 men and horses, who were ordered to recapture the Turkish guns at the head of a valley. ...read more.

Middle

However, Tennyson pushes us forward in verse four by turning the tables and making the Light Brigade become the assailants. As a reader this particular verse gives me a feeling of total admiration. Here is an elite Force faced with an impossible situation. They could have retreated and no one would of blamed them for doing so, but no, without question they continue with even more grit and determination. It is this action that makes them heroes. They are representing us as a nation and are proving to the enemy that we run from no one and are not afraid to stare Death in the eye. Even more to their credit, this elite Force slash their way through the enemy lines leaving bodies in their wake. It could be said that the Light Brigade is symbolic of our country in stature - both being small. However, the Light Brigade, like our Country, is a Force to be reckoned with. It is in this verse that patriotism is at an all time high. Not only has this Force continued its challenge but has managed to come through the other side as victors leaving their mark. Tennyson continues with the galloping pace in verse five, echoing the words of verse three with slight variation. As a reader I feel quite exhausted (as obviously the surviving soldiers were) but the galloping speed is maintained until safety is reached. The final verse, although brief, is praise for this heroic Light Brigade. There are not enough words to describe these courageous men and their steeds, so Tennyson has kept it simple but authoritative when he says "Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!" These simple words create tremendous pride and make you feel that they should be shouted for the entire world to hear. These men are an inspiration to us all. Dulce ET Decorum Est is a poem from 1914-1918 World War One. ...read more.

Conclusion

Secondly, the person these poems are written in. Tennyson obtained his details of this war from The Times' editorial. However, Wilfred Owen was actually present during the chemical attack. There is a sixty-year gap between these two poems and, therefore the customs and beliefs are different. Tennyson is from the old school, glorifying war, depicting it as action - packed, but never mentioning death. Owen, in contrast, concentrates on the suffering of the soldiers as opposed to their heroic deeds. There is futility in both poems but of a different nature. In the Charge of the Light Brigade the mission, itself, is made futile by one human error. However, in Dulce et Decorum est the futility is in the extreme suffering of one man never to be witnessed by the enemy who dealt this heinous blow. Both poets however, refuse to let this futility go unrecognised. Tennyson instructs the reader to honour this "noble" elite Force who broke enemy lines against great adversity. In contrast Owen instructs the reader to reconsider the old belief of willingly dying for your country. Both these poems have contrasting powerful messages and both are right. I try to imagine it was my great grandfather who died in the Charge of the Light Brigade. On reading this poem it would reassure me that he had not died in vain and had in fact died a hero. Equally, I try to imagine it is my great Uncle who is dying a slow agonising death in Dulce et Decorum est. Although painful to read, again he has not died in vain because the World has been made to share his experience and it never wants that experience again. In effect, it could be said that the Light Brigade as a unit and the chemical - infested soldier are representative of Christ in their own ways. The Light Brigade representing Christ fighting the good fight against all odds - and achieving their objective (seizing the guns - albeit the wrong ones). The dying soldier representing Christ dying for our sins on the cross. Tahir Sheikh-noor 1 ...read more.

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