Compare and Contrast the Two War Poems -'Dulce Et Decorum Est' and 'The Charge of The Light Brigade'

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Compare and Contrast the Two War Poems –

‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’

Wilfred Owen and Alfred, Lord Tennyson demonstrate their strong views and responses to war very differently in the two war poems: ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’

Tennyson’s poem of 1854 was written about a battle that took place in the Crimea, in southern Russia. Tennyson was not personally involved in the battle and got his story from ‘The Times.’ His son told of how he wrote ‘Charge’ in just a few minutes after reading the article. And although it has been said that this battle would have been forgotten if this poem did not exist, Tennyson wrote it not knowing all the facts, which means he only knew one side of the story, unlike Wilfred Owen, who was in the war from the start until he died shortly before it ended.

Owen asks us to question all the certainties that Tennyson is celebrating. Owen wrote ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ as he was being affected by World War One through first-hand experience; he was a lieutenant. It becomes apparent during the poem that Owen was strongly opposed to war, as he recounts a horrifying time that affected him deeply.

Tennyson’s message, however, was more patriotic and he wrote to praise England for the admirable soldiers who deserved honour and were worthy of respect for their actions. He describes a valiant charge ‘into the jaws of death’ which gives the impression that they were brave and extremely noble to go through such terrible surroundings, like the cannons that ‘volleyed and thundered’ to cause their untimely death.

Both poets came from different classes. Owen’s background was working class whereas Tennyson’s was upper class. Owen shared the voice of the people and could empathise with soldiers. However Tennyson had the views of an upper class citizen, and, in my opinion, he seemed to care more about his country than the soldiers.

Tennyson structured his poem in a way similar to the actual battle. For example, the first three stanzas are the lead up to the conflict, all of which end with ‘Rode the six hundred’, implying the soldiers are getting ready for battle. Stanzas four and five show the attack, with the length of the stanza representing the length of battle; this also creates suspense and panic. The last stanza takes the place of a memorial speech, and the punctuation makes it seem like a public performance. This contrasts to ‘Dulce’ because Owen wrote it from personal experience using his true feelings.

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Tennyson asks the reader a rhetorical question, ‘When can their glory fade?’ but it seems like he’s directing it at a wider audience, as if challenging them to disagree.

Tennyson’s poem is neatly structured, indicating his view of the battle, whereas Owen structures his differently and signifies the disorganisation of death. ‘Dulce’ has no specific structure, with two isolated lines in the middle. This also reflects the horror of the dying man who ‘plunges’ at Owen. It detaches these two men from the group, enabling the reader to understand that just this one man’s death had a dramatic ...

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**** 4 STARS This is an excellent essay which makes thoughtful and insightful comments. The writer has clearly researched social, historical and biographical details which has deepened understanding of the poems. Comments are well supported by references to texts and personal opinions are thoughtful.