Comparing 'Dulce et Decorem Est' with 'Charge of the Light Brigade'
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Comparing 'Dulce et Decorem Est' with 'Charge of the Light Brigade' 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 different ways. The main difference between the poems is the message they express. They seem to be writing about completely different wars. Wilfred Owens poem 'Dulce et Decorum Est,' was written from his point of view as a soldier in the war. It is much more personal and emotive than 'Charge of the Light Brigade.' Tennyson's poem, on the other hand was written as one of his duties as the Poet Laureate at the time. It lacks the detail and also the personal experience that Owens's poem has, and gives the impression that Tennyson does not actually care about the war very much and does not know much about it. 'Charge of the Light Brigade' was written to memorialise a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. Tennyson wrote 'Light Brigade´ in a few minutes after reading the description in The Times of the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. His poem 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.
Owen uses the oxymoron 'men marched asleep', which shows the soldiers are vulnerable to attacks, and are not ready to defend themselves. A constant use of punctuation is used to make the stanza seem longer, and to extend the pauses between the lines. This helps to portray how long it takes the men to get back to the trenches, and how fatigued the soldiers are. In the first stanza of 'Dulce et Decorum Est' the poet tells us how the men are so injured and shell shocked that they have been made useless, he says, "All went Lame, all went Blind." This is almost the total opposite of what the poet of the charge of the Light Brigade tells us about war, because even after and during the men being shelled they all fought strongly as if they could not be hurt by anything. The two poets both use a lot of repetition, which helps to emphasise the main aims of the poems. 'Charge of the Light Brigade' uses a lot of repetition of 'canon,' this helps portray the imagery of a canon firing. Similes are also used a lot in both poems, although 'Dulce et Decorum Est' uses a lot more than 'Charge of the Light Brigade.' Wilfred Owen illustrates the soldiers as, 'bent double, like old beggars under sacks.' This helps to put across the imagery of the soldiers to the reader.
The reader can almost see the scene when you read the poem. A hundred boys in a big hall, with some high ranking generals sitting on a stage at the front. One person reading this poem and telling the boys that although they will probably die they will die an honourable death. It is quite easy to see that this poem was used to get people to enlist. At the end of 'Dulce et Decorum Est,' Latin is used. This contrasts with the rest of the poem and makes it more dramatic. The reader lingers on the last phrase to work out what it means and it makes more of an impact on them in Latin than it would in English. The last line of 'Charge of the Light Brigade' is also very dramatic. As I have already mentioned, it refers to the soldiers all the way through the poem as 'the six hundred' and then at the end refers to them as 'the noble six hundred' as if the war is over and the soldiers are victorious at the end of the poem. Overall I prefer 'Dulce et Decorum Est' as it much more powerful to read. It is well structures and uses a lot of alliteration, assonance, such as 'white eyes writhing' and repetition all the way through. It makes the reader feel guilty, angry and understand the pain and suffering that the soldiers went through in a subtle way.
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