Compare and contrast Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ with Owen’s ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ in order to explore the poets’ attitudes to war Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ is written in relation to the catastrophic ‘Battle of Balaclava’ in the ‘Crimean War’ in 1854. It focuses mainly on the charge the 600 hundred brave and outnumbered English Cavalry made on the Russians.
While ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, a whole diverse poem written by Wilfred Owen is more of an emotional poem compared to ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. It focuses mainly on one situation during ‘World War 1’, a group of men are suffocating from the poisonous chlorine gas and traumatized by the death of their fellow soldier. Although both poets are writing about war, the two are different in every aspect and of dissimilar intention to us.
‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ tell us what happened when someone misread a command. Thus, the whole brigade fought in vain; however, they acknowledged this misinterpretation yet still pursued to demonstrate patriotism. So it is a pro war and consists of noble warriors supported by glamour whilst ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is an anti-war that convey the realism of a war. It is presented very hideously. The title itself is a mere contrast to the content of the whole poem. The poems give an insight of the great terror of war, which people do not usually fancy experiencing themselves. Therefore, the poem is an alternative way for one to experience and see the phenomenon of a war.
‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ is structured very well. It is clear to us in the opening that the soldiers first forward their way towards the enemy “Half a league onwards”, than the commander misinterprets an order “Some one had blundered” and so they progress to fight “Sabring the gunners there”, but only some return alive “Then they rode back, but not, Not the six hundred”. The end stanza commemorates the soldier’s patriotism “Honour the Light Brigade” in a respectful manner. The poem talks about the soldiers as a whole instead of just centring on one. This highlights the magnificence in war as not just some but everyone will be honoured and feel appreciated if they took part.
‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is also structured very well. It has fewer stanzas than Tennyson’s but each one is much precise. The first stanza is on the subject of the trench life and the soldier’s condition “Knock-kneed”, while the second one is solely about one soldier’s gruesome death “And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime”. This one death contrasts to the death of 600 men in Tennyson’s poem. The third stanza carries on with the soldier’s death, mainly describing his terrible image “white eyes writhing in his face”. This stanza is more intimate to the reader and it criticises the old lie, which so many people were brainwashed with.
Tennyson writes his poem in third person; “Boldly they rode”, “They fought so well”. This may have been influenced by the fact that he was a Poet Laureate and did not participate in the war. On the other hand, Owen writes from his own judgment as he took part in the war. He begins writing in third person “And towards our distant rest,” as he probably wants to portray his own experience of war, up until the second stanza “I saw him drowning,”. He finishes with first person “if you could hear,” which creates a relationship between the reader and the writer. He tries to bring the horrors of the war to the reader. It makes us more involved and virtually feels like we are present during the war, enduring the pain the weary solders felt; “cursed through sludge,” the miserable sight; “green sea,” etc.
Both poems have different effect on the reader. Tennyson values the heroic features of the soldiers by showing respect towards them as well as the actions they took, “Honour the charge they made, Honour the Light Brigade”. He goes as far as comparing the 600 soldiers to being “noble” so as to ensure us just how much he appreciated them and so gives them a very superior status, “Noble six hundred!” He also writes; “All the world wondered,” to increase his emphasis of the gallant men’s astounding temperament which he suggests, the world was so amazed that it left them static and to speculate over their action.
He uses global reference to convince readers that war was a good thing. He puts glamour to the soldiers, “flashed” in the phrases “Flashed all their sabres bare,” “Flashed as they turned in air”, which is actually a contrast between the “valley of Death”. Tennyson gives the soldiers a sense of immortality in the end stanza by implying a rhetorical question “When will their glory fade?”. All of these would have had a positive effect on the reader at that time; therefore, it would have encouraged one to become a soldier.