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Comparison Of the Two War Poems - "Dulce et Decorum Est" and "Charge of the Light Brigade"

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Introduction

Comparison Of the Two War Poems - "Dulce et Decorum Est" and "Charge of the Light Brigade" You can tell from the off-set of "Dulce et Decorum Est" that Wilfred Owen doesn't see the supposed honour of war in the same light as those who made the old saying that names his poem. In the first line of the poem the description of the men and the conditions in the trenches are described in what would seem to be disgust. Wilfred Owen tries to show how little honour he sees in the war these men are fighting for. The use of similes such as "like old beggars under sacks" and "coughing like hags", along with the use of metaphors like "Drunk with fatigue" and "deaf even to the hoots", brings the image to mind of a filthy wretch, bereft of their senses, forced by circumstance to trudge in the dirt towards some unknown destination. The poem seems to beg the question- Where is the honour in this? Unlike the image usually conjured of a war-scene, where men are brave, energetic and ready to die for their country, Owen creates and image of men cursing their way through the sludge, near, blind, deaf and dumb, due to the goings on of war, and men more likely to want to crawl under a wagon and hide than bravely walk out into no-mans land for king and country. He creates an image of average everyday men, and places them in a horrific environment to try to show that in these situations there are no heroes, only men doomed to death by the common arts of war. As you move on to the second verse Wilfred Owen brings writes of his first hand experience in war. Of a gas attack, where a fellow soldier, dies horrifically due to a gas attack. The first line - "Gas!GAS! Quick boys! ...read more.

Middle

Obviously having been asked by the Queen to write a poem honouring the Light Brigade and their final battle, Tennyson was prevented from writing anything obviously damning about the generals who ordered these men to their deaths, but this did not prevent him from voicing his feelings about the mistakes made that cost these men their lives behind a subtle veil of nuances and false rhythms. The break in rhythm is there to bring notice to the words that break that rhythm- "he said", a man made the mistake, it was not something that would have happened anyway, it was a mistake that a man had made and had another made it, then maybe the disaster could have been avoided and these men spared their lives. "Into the valley of death" - again Tennyson brings notice to this fact, the men are riding to their deaths, this was no play, no story, where men fight and then get up when the curtains fall, these men died in that valley and should be honoured for their loss. "Forward the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismay'd Not tho the soldier knew Some one had blundered" Again - "Forward the Light Brigade" is repeated, as if the soldiers had faltered thinking the order the mistake it was. This is Tennyson's way of again showing his feelings about the mistake made that cost so many lives. "Was there a man dismay'd" - Tennyson shows how the men valiantly obeyed their generals orders and rode to their deaths. Tennyson shows us that the men were ready to die for their country and that they should be honoured for this. This is a major difference compared with "Dulce et Decorum est" as "Dulce et Decorum est" tries to show how little honour there was in the war, where "Charge of the Light Brigade" honours these men for their sacrifice. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tennyson angry at the mistake made that cost so many of these men their lives and Owen similarly angry at the conditions these so called hero's must sleep and live in while at war. The reason for these obvious similarities is the Owen writes about how little honour there is in the war, how little these men's lives have meant, how these men are merely cannon fodder and there was little honour in their deaths. Tennyson writes about how the men should be honoured for their sacrifice, each man has given their life to do what they can in the war and has bravely fought to the last. I believe the reason for this quite significant difference is the periods the two poems were written in and the concepts of war of the two periods. Whereas in Tennyson's period, men's lives at least made some small impact on the enemies lines and made some small difference, Owens period brought the introduction of artillery and trench-warfare, with the likes of mustard and chlorine gas, where in this state of warfare, a man could quite easily make no difference. In the Crimean War men fought hand to hand and a man's death was heroic, fighting to the last , yet in First World War a man was killed without a thought by bullet or by gas, without the chance to fight back or make a difference, far from the death of a hero. I like the ideals and ideas of honour in "The Charge of the Light Brigade", yet the harsh message put forward by "Dulce et Decorum est" brings me to believe that as time goes on the ideas of honour and bravery are being lost and men are being killed without thought with weapons that killed tens if not hundreds at a time. With all the talk of our now supposedly great civilizations, as time creeps on, one wonders if all mankind does is create more and more efficient ways of killing itself. ...read more.

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