The charge of the light brigade by Lord TennysoDulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred lord Tennyson are both about war and death. However, the themes are portrayed in two very different ways; one is about glory, and the other about a horrific death.Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854 after reading a article in a newspaper. The poem was written to increase the moral of the fighting soldiers and of the people at home.
The Charge of the Light Brigade celebrates the glory of war, and how its noble to die for your country. Tennyson also talks of how the six hundred soldiers boldly rode to the battle, even though an error had been made,Someone had blunderdThis mistake sent six hundred soldiers to their death. The soldiers, however, are quickly detached from any blame; this is shown by the repetition of three in the second stanza.theirs not to This shows that it is not the soldiers fault but someone else is to blame for their death. The repletion of the six hundred at the end of each verse reminds the reader of the loss of life, except in the last verse,the noble six hundredAgain, this reminds us of the bravery and glory, it also elevates the soldiers above just being the six hundred.
In the last verse, Tennyson also creates a sense of immortality by using a rhetorical question.when can their glory fade?This makes us believe that they will never be forgotten, because they are the six hundred and they were braver than anybody else was so they should be remembered. The poem is started in the middle of the action,Half a league, half a leagueHalf a league onwardThis gives a sense of excitement and galloping horse in the charge, because the rhythm represents the horses hooves galloping on the ground Tennyson uses a lot of repetition,Flashd all their sabres bareflashd as they turnd in air It creates image of the bravery of the soldiers because the repetition makes it stand out making the reader notice it and think about it more. He also uses metaphors and similes,The valley of deathMouth of hellThese describe the fate the soldiers await, however Tennyson does not describe the battle its self, as he was not an eyewitness to it. These metaphors and similes are effective because the progressively build up the horrific entrance to the battle progressing from valley of death to jaws of death.
This builds up tension and excitement. Owen wrote Dulce et Decorum est towards the end of the First World War, however he was killed in action a week before the war was over. Unlike Tennyson Owen was a soldier poet, he had first hand experience of war and this is reflected through out the poem. He wrote he poem to end the glorification of war, end the propaganda and lies, but most importantly he wanted tell people at home to know the truth.Owens poem questions everything Tennyson celebrates.
The poems theme is that dying for your country is not glorious and this is echoed throughout the poem. The title Owen chose for his poem Dulce et Decorum est means It is sweet and fitting to die for ones country. A roman poet, Horace, wrote this and Owen clearly states that it is a lie. This title fools the reader in to thinking that the poem will be about smart, proud and noble soldiers. However, this image is quickly discarded in the first stanza,coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,This has a big impact on the reader because of the false title, it will make them sit up and take notice to what Owen has to say because it is not what they were expecting.
This is the reality that Owen went through everyday, and unlike in Tennysons poem there is nothing romantic about these soldiers, they are simply a mess. They are cursing through the sludge because it is the only way they feel they can get through it. They are very tired,Drunk with fatigue.They are giving the appearance of being drunk because they are stumbling with exhaustion.
This first stanza is very slow, it reflects and captures the atmosphere the soldiers movements, they are trudging and bent double, they are moving slowly which is shown in the speed of the verse. Whereas The charge of the light brigade first verse is fast and moves quickly, half a league this shows the horse galloping and the excitement. The second verse is speeded up, showing the soldiers agitation to get their masks on, by the use of exclamation marks after gas.
When they realise the gas is coming they become alarmed, and knowing they could be instantly killed makes the adrenaline rush,-an ecstasy of fumblingThis contrast of ecstasy and fumbling is a good way of showing this fear and tension. At first, when the reader knows that they have fitted the gas masks just in time, they are relived, but they soon realise that one person has not managed it. still yelling out and stumbling Someone is helpless and Owen cant save him, this is not a glorious death, far from it. By using vivid imagery like floundering Owen manages to give the reader a feeling of horror and impotence. Owen wants the reader to feel exactly like he did, helpless and upset that an innocent life had been wasted for such a trivial, basic mistake. Owen describes him drowning because the effect of the gas would be almost like being drown in water, and a green sea because he glass of the gas masks is green. he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowningThis shows the soldiers suffering and pain, by the use of strong adjectives, and the reader can almost imagine his life flickering away.
Just like in The Charge of the Light Brigade an error is made in this stanza, and a very simple one. Fitting gas masks would have been a simple and well trained procedure yet the soldier failed to complete his task in time. Whereas in Tennysons poem it was somebody else fault for the dead, this solider only has him self to blame. I dont think Owen is criticising the solider as such just saying that it is no one else mistake that lead to his death, and that if every other solider managed to fit their gas masks why didnt he?In the next, and last, verse the language becomes very emotive and descriptive. Watch the white eyes writhing in his face,His hanging faceNow the soldier is in incredible pain, shown by writhing, this gives a strong metal image of squirming with agonising pain. This is not help by the fact they have flung him in the wagon.
Come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs,Bitter as the cud,Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tonguesIt is as if Owen is attempting to cram in as many ugly and vile images as he can, and during the mans death we are reliving the torture Owen went through as he followed the cart. Owen uses a wide variety of metaphors and similes to show emotion and to give the reader vivid images,like old beggars under sacksmen marched asleepOf course the men are not literally old beggars and they are not marching asleep; in fact I dont think they are marching at all, because the rhythm isnt regular and continuous like it might be if they were marching. These similes and metaphors are used effectively because the reader gets and instant and accurate picture in the readers heads of what Owen saw, this is the same technique as Tennyson uses, but of course, Tennysons are not as effective because he was not an eyewitness.
Owen tries to involve the audience as much as possible, and he also uses We to remind the reader that he was there and we instantly feel sympathy for him. The rhyme pattern ab, and the pace is continued strongly through out the different verses, showing that even though they have lost one man the group is still going strong, and still continue to be shown as heros. However, in The Charge of the light Brigade the rhythm is often broken to show the breakage in the group, and to show they are no longer the six hundred. I prefer , Dulce et Decourm est, because it contains stronger imagery, and I like the way he talks in first person, unlike Tennysons impersonal six hundred. I also think Owen had a stronger motive for writing this poem and he truly wanted to change the world and its opinions. Therefore, I believe Dulce at Decourm est By Wilfred Owen is the better poem.