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Comparing “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen.

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Introduction

Comparing "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen. Although both "Dulce et Decorum Est" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade are about battle and the death of soldiers, they portray the experience of war in very different ways. Tennyson's poem celebrates the glory of war, despite the fact that, because of an error of judgment "someone had blundered," six hundred soldiers were sent to their death. Owen's poem, on the other hand might almost have been written as a challenge to Tennyson's rousing sentiments. He presents the horror of senseless death in the trenches. He was a civilian poet, as opposed to a soldier poet like Owen. His poem "Light Brigade" increased the morale of the British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War and of the people at home, but Tennyson had not been an eyewitness to the battle he describes. Wilfred Owen wrote "Dulce et Decorum Est" towards the end of the First World War. Owen was against the propaganda and lies that were being told at the time. He had first-hand experience of war and wanted to let the people at home know the truth. ...read more.

Middle

The soldiers "Flashed as they turned in air" This suggests that they were so powerful and energetic that they were almost flying. Tennyson does not show the pain of the people killed, the blood, the anguish and agony both the enemy and the Light Brigade died in. A heroic, gallant image is created as the Light Brigade "Plunged in the battery-smoke" This is more reminiscent of a film than of real life conflict. Wilfred Owen in his poem is asking us to question all the certainties that Tennyson is celebrating. The theme of "Dulce et Decorum Est" is that war and dying for one's country are not at all glorious. This message is echoed throughout the poem from the first stanza to the last line. In the opening stanza you get a very different image of the soldiers from what you might expect from the title. You think of soldiers as smart, proud, marching and fighting, but Owen's picture is based on his personal experience of the battlefield. There is nothing romantic about Owen's soldiers. Using imagery and similes, he portrays them as worn out, old and down trodden. ...read more.

Conclusion

The pace at which the poems are read is also very important. "Dulce et Decorum est" is designed to be read very slowly, apart from the middle verse. This is because the middle verse contains action and adrenaline. Because they are slow the words are thought about and understood more deeply, and it becomes more meaningful and shocking. He uses words like "trudge" to add to the slowness of the first stanza. Also, the slow pace reflects the speed and the mood of the tired men in the poem. In the first and last verses, this slow speed is achieved by the long words, the long lines and the frequent punctuation. The speed in the second verse is increased by the short words and the reduced number of commas. In "The Charge of the Light Brigade" however, the speed of the poem is much faster. They rhythm of the lines is important in doing this. There are two short syllables followed by one long one. This emulates the gallop of horses In my opinion "Dulce et Decorum Est" is the more powerful poem of the two because it is truthful and the shock tactics work very well in portraying to the reader the horrifying reality of war. ...read more.

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