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The Portrayal Of War In Charge Of The Light Brigade And Dulce Et Decorum Est

1982 words - 8 pages

The Portrayal of War in Charge of the Light Brigade and Dulce et Decorum Est

Both "Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson and "Dulce
et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owen are poems about war. However, they
were written in two very different contexts and about two very
different wars. Charge of the Light Brigade describes a doomed cavalry
charge made by British soldiers during The Battle of Balaclava in the
Crimean War (1854-1857). Dulce et Decorum est, on the other hand,
tells the story of a group of soldiers who were caught in a gas attack
returning from the trenches of World War I (1914-1918) towards their
"distant rest". Alfred Lord Tennyson was the "Poet Laureate" at that
time and wrote the poem after reading about The Battle of Balaclava in
the "Times" newspaper. This could have influenced how he portrayed the
battle as he used secondary information which could be unreliable. In
contrast, Wilfred Owen had first hand battle experiences from World
war I, and so you would expect his information to be more reliable,
However he could have emphasised certain points for poetic effect.

In Dulce et Decorum est Wilfred Owen uses a variety of similes
metaphors and other poetic techniques to describe the actions,
appearance and mental states of the soldiers. Owen describes the
soldiers as "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed,
coughing like hags", this simile shows that the war has had a very
large effect on the soldiers as it gives the impression that they have
aged prematurely and are in a very bad state of health. Owen also says
that they limped on "blood-shod, all went lame, all blind", also
giving the impression that the soldiers are in a very bad state of
health, this emphasises the reader's impression of the soldiers'
appearance. In contrast, Charge of the Light Brigade does not really
have any mention of the soldiers' physical appearances.

Owen gives the impression that the soldiers have very low moral as he
says, "we cursed through sludge" and "towards our distant rest began
to trudge". I believe this because of the way in which Owen describes
their action as he implies that every thing they did was very hard
work, as rather than they walked he says they trudged. Owen also says
"men marched asleep", "drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots of
tired, outstripped five-nines that dropped behind", this demonstrates
that the soldiers are very tired and exhausted. He even personifies
the bombs (five-nines) to show that they have been used so much that
even they are tired. In contrast, Tennyson describes the soldiers in
Charge of the Light Brigade very differently. In the second stanza,
Tennyson asks a Rhetorical question "Was there a man dismay'd?" and he
answers "not tho' the soldiers knew some one had blundered", this
shows that the soldiers accepted their orders without question even if
they knew some one had made a mistake in giving them the order. After
the...

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