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Compare and contrast the presentations of war and its effects in 'Dulce et Decorum Est' and the 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the presentations of war and its effects in 'Dulce et Decorum Est' and the 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' During the First World War people at home in Britain had divided views about what was occurring in the trenches. Some people thought that fighting in the war and dying for your country was romantic and heroic while others thought that it was cruel and totally barbaric. The truth was nobody in Britain actually knew the torture and pain the soldiers were going through in the trenches. They were constantly under attack from shellfire and there was always the risk of being attacked with mustard gas. Alfred Lord Tennyson and Wilfred Owen are two of the most acknowledged war poets; their poetry is remarkably powerful but also surpassingly different. Alfred Tennyson was born in Somersby Lincolnshire where he began to write poetry at an early age. One of Tennyson's closest friends died when he was studying at Trinity College, Oxford. This event had a major effect on Tennyson's work as he started to write poems about faith and the meaning of losing some one. Tennyson wrote the 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' from second hand experience based on a newspaper report, which he had read. Wilfred Owen was born in Plas Wilmot near Oswestry and was educated at Shrewsbury Technical School. ...read more.

Middle

This gives the reader an image of the weary soldiers suddenly changing into panic-stricken men, most of who are too energy drained to fit their masks on. Wilfred Owen also uses vocabulary such as "stumbling, floundering, and fumbling" to describe the desperate actions of the dying man. The agony encountered by the soldier is described by the simile "like a man on fire" as it suggests the man is twisting and twitching in absolute pain. Wilfred Owen uses powerful imagery to enable us to picture what is happening such as "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning" The third and final stanza is a very dramatic monologue and echoes the view that it is not a sweet and fitting thing to die for ones country as it is suggested in the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"! The line "Behind the wagon that we flung him in" suggests that there is nothing sweet and fitting about throwing a dead friend into the back of a wagon. The soldiers have become accustomed to the brutal reality of war and seeing a companion die is a regular occurrence. Wilfred Owen also uses onomatopoeia to show the reader the dying soldier's withering actions, "Come gargling from his froth corrupted lungs". Wilfred Owen uses extremely strong imagery and goes into great detail when describing the injuries sustained by the soldiers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tennyson uses poetic methods to evoke the bravery of the men. Owen uses poetic methods to state and to describe the terrible conditions during the war. The rhythms and speed of the poems are very different. The slow pace of Wilfred Owens poems brings across a sense of sorrow, sadness and dejection whereas the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' has a very fast pace and tempo this gives the reader the impression that fighting for one's country is an exciting and even a joyful activity. In "The Charge of the Light Brigade" Tennyson uses more formal language than Wilfred Owen does this might be because his poem has been based on a report and if he had been at the battle himself he could have used more descriptive and detailed language. Wilfred Owen uses short, soft sounding words "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight" where as Tennyson uses thunderous heavy sounding words, 'volleyed and thundered.' Where Owen gives us the dreadful image of the marching soldiers 'old beggars bent double' we are given a valiant image of war in the newspaper report on which Tennyson based his poem "At ten minutes past eleven our Light Cavalry Brigade advanced ......They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war" so we can see where Tennyson gets his proud and radiant images from. ...read more.

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