charge of the light brigade essay

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Analysis of the charge of the light brigade

The poem is the charge of the light brigade was written by a famous author called Alfred lord Tennyson during the Crimean war during the battle of balacarver in Russia.

The beginning lines of the poem throw the reader into the centre of action, with a rousing chant that drives the reader, both in its description and in its galloping rhythm, toward the battle. A "league" is approximately three miles long: charging horses could cover half a league in a few minutes. The audiences of the time of the poem would have been familiar with the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War, upon which the poem is based, and would have known from the beginning that they were charging to their own doom. (As the poem soon makes clear, the six hundred cavalrymen of the Light Brigade were aware of these themselves which shows true bravery.) The poem suggests that it is these moments before the battle has begun that are the Brigade's greatest glory.


No sooner does line 9 repeat the shouted command that sends the Light Brigade to their doom than line 10 makes the reader wonder whether any of the soldiers were stricken with fear upon hearing the command. Although we currently closely associate the word "dismay" with "shock," its actual meaning includes a loss of courage. By raising this issue as a question and then answering that no, there was no fear, Tennyson gives the reader a moment's pause to let the full extent of the soldiers' bravery sink in. Line 11 and line 12 tell the reader without question that every member of the Brigade knew that this order was a mistake. This contradiction the fact that the soldiers knew they were likely to die because of a "blunder" in military strategy, yet charged forward without fear anyway gives the poem a psychological depth that would be lost if it merely celebrated the loyalty of soldiers who were unaware of the faulty command they were following and did as they were ordered .

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The style suggests the regimented, militaristic way the members of the Light Brigade think as they ride ahead, and the effect of the strong use of repetition is to drown out concerns about the blunder mentioned in the previous stanza. "Theirs but to do and die" says that the soldiers are actually supposed to die  this might seem contrary to the purpose of fighting, but Tennyson makes it clear that this is the belief of the charging soldiers, for whom such a fate would be the ultimate expression of loyalty.  In the next line the perspective shifts from what the ...

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