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Charge of the Light Brigade

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03/11/2008 David Markinson English Coursework - Charge of the Light Brigade (Tennyson) The Drum (Scott) In this essay, I will explore both Tennyson's and Scott's views on war and how they show this in their poems. The charge of the Light Brigade was a disastrous event that occurred on October 25, 1854 during the Crimean War. On December 2, 1854, Tennyson wrote the poem in response to an article that he read about the incident only minutes before. In my first few readings of the poem, I thought his only purpose was to memorialise the bravery and heroism of the British soldiers that died during the attack. After doing more research on this incident and several closer readings of the work, I began to realize the use of double entendres that Tennyson employed in several places within in the poem and the tone of the poem in general. I now believe that Tennyson had two purposes for writing this poem. As stated earlier, I believe his first purpose was to memorialise those who so bravely gave their lives that day; his second purpose, however, was to show the consequence of blind obedience to another person strictly based on position of authority. In the first two lines Tennyson immediately gives us a feel of the atmosphere. ...read more.


I personally believe that Tennyson was trying to show the innocence of the rest of the world. That even though a battle was taking place and hundreds of lives were being lost, the rest of the world was blissfully ignorant of what was happening. It is also in this stanza that Tennyson first changes his repeated line from "Rode the six hundred" to "Not the six hundred". This shows that after the battle the six hundred will not return. In the fifth and pen-ultimate, Tennyson repeats the first half of the third stanza bar one line "Cannon in front of them" he has substituted this line for "Cannon behind them". This shows that the British are now routing. Tennyson continues; "While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well." I feel that hero is the important word in this line. It shows Tennyson's admiration for the dead soldiers and his opinion on how they fought. It is also in this stanza that the term "mouth of hell is used" but this time it is the soldiers returning. Those "left of six hundred". This line in its simplicity tells the reader that hardly any of the six hundred returned from the battle. It is in the final stanza that Tennyson makes a plea to the reader to memorialise the soldier's bravery. ...read more.


Scott then goes on to give a list of what war or "the drum" leaves behind. He uses imagery to give the audience an idea of what he imagines. Scott mentions "Mangled Limbs, and dying groans, and widow's tears, and orphan's moans." The idea of mangled limbs is horrible to imagine and it shows Scott's real hate for war. Scott also repeats the word 'and' a total of 7 times during this list, again allowing the audience to imagine the repetition of the drum. Repetition plays a big part in Scott's poem. Not only does it remind the audience of the repetition of the drum but it also gives a sense that its never going to end, whether its war, life, torture or the drum is left up to the audience's imagination and all these ideas have been cunningly woven into the fabrics or Scott's poem. In conclusion; both poets express their feelings quite clearly in their respective poems in their own way. Because of John Scott's use of repetition we understand that he is anti war. Alfred Lord Tennyson on the other hand is not so clear on his opinion of war in general but it is made quite clear that he believes the soldiers in the charge of the light brigade are heroes and deserve to be remembered. We also understand that he believes that the authority at the time was ignorant and negligent towards checking the orders given. 1 ...read more.

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