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The Charge of the Light Brigade Analysis

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Introduction

War Poetry Pre - 1914 The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson In this poem Tennyson recalls a battle that took place in the Crimean war, where the Russians had seized some British Artillery and the British General sent out a desperate order for his troops to charge and recover the artillery. However a grave error was made when they were ordered to ride into the wrong direction with devastating consequences. The poem's focus is not on the consequences of the generals erroneous decision but on the bravery of the men and their desire to up hold their honour at all costs. "Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward," Lord Tennyson starts with a strong dimeter rhythm (has two stressed syllables) to create the sound of horses charging. The use of Half a league creates a sense of ambition, giving an indication of the length of the task ahead. By repeating it , this adds emphasis and encouragement. The onward implies a positive action and in these first few lines we start to get a feel for Tennyson's attitude to war. "All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred 'Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!' he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred." Lord Tennyson uses the assonance of All and Forward to increase the volume and to emphasize Death and Light Brigade. ...read more.

Middle

Lord Tennyson ends the stanza with; 'Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.' This repetition in each stanza creates a sense of suspense for the reader as we begin to wonder of its importance. 'Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them. Volley'd and thunder'd;" Tennyson uses the cacophony of this phrase to create the effect of the solders being surrounded by cannon fire . The deep vowel sounds create the feeling of explosions. 'Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred This sibilant 's' sounds create a 'ripping' sound to mimic the shot ripping through the ranks of the light brigade. " Boldly" tells us how Tennyson looks at he solders. The third line of the stanza 'Into the jaws of Death,' is borrowed from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' "I snatch'd one half out of the jaws of death." Perhaps implying that one half of the Light Brigade will return, however Tennyson never tells the reader how many died or how many returned. This personification of death, giving it jaws builds the picture of a raging beast who is about to consume the Light Brigade. His repetition of 'Rode the six hundred' continues the theme set earlier. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tennyson uses this literary devise to answer and address each of the issues raised in stanza 3 by relating line by line and rhyme by rhyme. 'When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder'd. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!' In this last stanza by using words like glory , honour and noble Tennyson tells us a lot about his attitude to war. By asking a rhetorical question When can their glory fade? he is subliminally telling us that the answer is "never" but outwardly and overtly he is telling us to "Honour the charge" and "Honour the Light Brigade". Although in the previous stanza he says "what was left of the six hundred" in the last stanza he does not remorse over the lost ones but rather he says " Noble Six Hundred", preferring to remember them all as "noble and brave," openly displaying his positive attitude to war. Tennyson's expression of the notion of 'honour' and 'glory' in war, is similar to that expressed by 'The Volunteer' by Herbert Asquith and 'Ode, Written in the Beginning of the Year 1746' by William Collins, however other pomes, such as ; 'The Hyaenas' , 'The Wound Dresser and 'Drummer Hodge' which are based on experiences in wars contradict this view and often ridicule it. ...read more.

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