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Compare the different attitudes to war shown in the poetry of Tennyson and Owen - The two poems I will be analysing are 'Dulce et Decorum est' by Owen and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Tennyson.

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Chris Adams Compare the different attitudes to war shown in the poetry of Tennyson and Owen The two poems I will be analysing are `Dulce et Decorum est' by Owen and `The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Tennyson. Tennyson and Owen have very different views on war, I think that it is important to look at their reasons for writing the poems, and their backgrounds. Tennyson was poet laureate, and therefore a high profile figure, and expected to write poems. He came from an aristocratic background, and had a higher-class family than Owen. He did not see war for himself; he simply read a newspaper article and wrote his poem as a result of that. His information was secondary, and therefore subject to bias, that was beyond his control. Owen had a much different upbringing, he came from a working class family, but managed to go to university, which was unusual at that time, for working class people. He was a soldier, and had first hand experience of the reality of war, so his information on which he based his poem was primary, and we can assume it was probably much more true to the reality of war. Owen wrote his poem out of a desire to communicate the horror of war to those who still believed that it was glorious and honourable, as promoted by Tennyson's poem. The two views on war held by Tennyson and Owen could not be more different. Tennyson believes that the valiant and courageous should be remembered for dying in that war, on the other hand Owen is adamant that no more young boys be sent to somewhere as abhorrent as that, without knowing the truth. He knows that a lot of propaganda is prevalent, and wishes that they made up their own mind about whether they want to fight, rather than be forced, or coerced into something that they will regret. ...read more.


Owen recounts his personal view of what happened to a real person, which is very effective as it gets the reader to envision the revulsion felt by the other soldiers, looking on this incident. `Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, Cannon in front of them Volleyed and thundered;' Tennyson successfully accentuates the dire predicament that the soldiers are obliged to undertake. He uses the repetition of the phrase, with the same rhythm to underline the hectic feeling of the Light Brigade, as the ride towards their formidable enemy. `Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.' Here Owen uses a simile, then goes on to use it as a metaphor. He describes the eerie colour of the gas as `misty panes,' and `thick green light,' which, combined with the fact that he is in acute pain gives a terrifying and harrowing account of the abhorrent way that men died in the war. The reader gets the impression that Owen feels guilty and helpless, all he can do is be a bystander, and wait for the pitiable man to die. Owen uses astounding onomatopoeic language, among very effective similes and metaphors. Tennyson explains to the world the bravery and courage it took to do what they did. `He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.' Owen selection of language is impeccable for its intention, as he uses the word `guttering,' to describe the way the man sounded before he died, and it does so remarkably. It is onomatopoeic, and very convincing that it was in fact the final `plunge,' of a dying man. He also continues his metaphor of the man `drowning,' in the gas. `Charging and army, while All the world wondered:' Tennyson is writing his poem for the world to read, so in a sense, it is to the reader, without having to directly say it, he implies it. ...read more.


The last lines of each poem summarise perfectly the two views on war held by these two writers. `My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.' Owen is fighting the views of such people who think that to go to war is honourable, the exact opposite of the intention of Tennyson's poem. He uses irony in his poem, as the title simply means `It is sweet and fitting,' where as at the end he clarifies what he really means, and what he really thinks about war. He has experienced war for himself, and does not want others to have such a horrific burden placed upon them without being fully informed of the great hardships to be endured in doing so. He calls it `The old Lie,' which is a very strong statement to make against a saying that people genuinely believe in, with which he intentionally shocks the reaHe also says `My friend,' this is applicable to everybody, not just to select people, and the reader knows that. `Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!' Tennyson's use of exclamation marks makes his point very clear. This poignant ending commands the public to follow his views on war, and instructs them to honour the whole six hundred, whether they returned or not. Tennyson writes with one clear aim, that patriotism is instilled in every person who reads it, and does not doubt his or her country. He uses repetition to make his point all the more clear and concise. His poem is mainly propaganda, and is not supposed to be used as a historical account of the battle, but as a symbol of the bravery of the soldiers, and a monument to their glory, that in Tennyson's opinion should never fade. ...read more.

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