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Compare the different attitudes to war shown in Dulce et Decorum est and The charge of the Light Brigade.

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Paul Bodman Compare the different attitudes to war shown in Dulce et Decorum est and The charge of the Light Brigade Both of the two poems are about war, but they convey completely different attitudes. This essay will compare and contrast them. Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum est was influenced by his own personal experience of war. He fought in France during World War 1, and had seen the horrific conditions soldiers endured, which are described in his poems. It can be said that his non glorifying approach in his poems is caused by what he had seen. Unlike Tennyson, Owen describes the real conditions in considerable detail, and fills his poems with much social criticism and protest, for example "He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning" This is effective because it gets the audience to think about why they are stereotyping the soldiers as bold and brave, like Tennyson's poems, when in fact war should not be glorified in any way. Owen describes the horrific way soldiers died, and gets a much stronger picture across, for example "under a green sea, I saw him drowning" The green sea is effective because it exaggerates gas, making the audience realise what a horrific battle this is. In Tennyson's poems, however, he only briefly describes the battle. Doing this he makes it seem glorious - "boldly they rode and well" This shows how Tennyson thought that these soldiers were brave, and should be honoured. ...read more.


This faster pace is mirrored in the pace of the poem, like the rhythm of horses. Tennyson uses metaphors to describe the battlefield as "the jaws of death". This implies that it is like a mouth eating the soldier, and that death is inevitable. However he never questions war, unlike Owen, and instead of talking about the bad parts, he focuses on the honourable side. This is why the poem isn't as politically accurate as Dulce et decorum est. Another sense of bravery is the fact that the soldiers were fighting with "cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them." Using repetition, Tennyson emphasises how the army was completely surrounded, and therefore very brave to keep fighting until the bitter end. In Dulce et decorum est, the type of combat is completely different to The charge of the Light Brigade. The soldiers use guns and gas - a lethal combination as proved in verse 4 - "The white eyes writhing in his face", and "the blood come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs". This graphic description shocks the audience, shows them just how dangerous the gas was, and makes them realise a silent killer is definitely not glorious, but in The charge of the Light Brigade, the weapons are swift, metallic and grand, such as swords. This creates an image of a strong, fearless, handsome fighter, and the deaths suffered were quick and less painful than the internal deaths of the First World War. ...read more.


He describes the deaths as "obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sore on innocent tongues" Here he is saying how the soldiers didn't deserve to die, and they should be mourned, not honoured. As well as this, an imperative is used - "Gas! Gas! Quick boys!" This shows the difference between warfare. In the charge of the Light brigade, it is a loud, active battle, but in Dulce et decorum est, the battle is fought in trenches, using stealth techniques and the silent killer - gas. Owen also uses personification to tell us that the feelings people have about war are wrong - "the old lie." This is shown because it compares the phrase to a person, a liar, and this persuades the audience to change their mind because Owen is saying that they are liars in a very subtle way. Also, the title of the poem is shortened to Dulce et decorum est instead of it's full title because the full title means "it is sweet and honourable to die for your country" If this was the title, people would believe this was his opinion and then would be surprised when they find it is not. Using the shortened title it is sweet and honourable; this doesn't indicate a pro-war poem. I prefer Dulce et Decorum est because it is not propaganda like the Charge of the Light Brigade. It is an actual account of a real battle, so therefore is more accurate and heartfelt. Tennyson's poems glorify war, and make them seem grand, which is not how it was. ...read more.

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