Reality Of War In Crane's War Is Kind And Tennyson's Charge Of The Light Brigade

1857 words - 7 pages

Reality of War in Crane's War is Kind and Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade  

    An overwhelming tendency to fight and battle has plagued humankind since the dawn of the written word. Countless wars have been fought since the dawn of man and most times such conflict exists simply for its own sake with no productive end. Immense human suffering and death can be caused by conflicts that hold little logical justification. Since the birth of the written word, criticism and discussion have persistently followed the topic of war. In exposing the grim reality of war, two works of literature stand out as being both vivid and compelling. Through similar uses of graphic imagery and forceful diction, both Stephen Crane in his "Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War is Kind" and Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his "The Charge of the Light Brigade" evoke strong sentiment on the reality of war. "The Charge" offers a slightly more glorified view of war while still portraying its harsh essence.


    Stephen Crane in his "Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War is Kind" uses several methods to convey his perception of war; most strikingly, stark imagery. As the poem begins, a woman cries over the death of her lover who, while left to die on the battlefield, "threw wild hands toward the sky" (2). His posture illustrates the physical pain he experienced as well as the longing he felt for his lover and his lost life (Cady 102). He threw his hands toward the sky in a vain effort to reach out to her and the life that had been taken from him. Crane's next stanza portrays an image of troops marching to their death, men "born to drill and die" (8). Crane endeavors to show the blind trust that soldiers are forced to place in their leaders. The soldiers knew little about why they were fighting, only that there existed some cause greater than they could comprehend. None of them wished to die, but many would inevitably rest on "a field where a thousand copses lie" (11). Crane next describes a father who "raged at his breast, gulped and died" (14) to further highlight the pain of death and loss caused by a war. Just as the woman lost her lover, a child lost her father and neither man died willingly or peacefully. Both men rather struggled and raged against death. Through such graphic imagery, Crane shows the reader a glimpse of the pain inherent in war.


    In addition to imagery, Crane skillfully juxtaposes two contrasting words to mock society's perception of war. In the best example of this juxtaposition, Crane echoes his title "war is kind" to defame war through sarcasm. The "virtue of slaughter" and "the excellence of killing" further belittle war's grandeur. Such contrasting phrases create a tone of acerbity in the poem, as Crane mocks the glory in war that so many younger, more innocent minds admire. Through conveying the fact that there exists neither virtue in slaughter nor excellence in killing, Crane affirms that war has no bright side and glory is a foolish...

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