“Charge of the Light Brigade” vs “Dulce et Decorum Est”

The poems “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Alfred Tennyson and “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred all highlight the theme of war.

Painting War in Good vs Bad Light

In assessing the history of many countries, it becomes almost increasingly evident that war has defined the society of communities in one way or the other. Lord Alfred Tennyson on his part takes an approach that paints war in good light. He believes that it is a big honor to die for one’s country.

He wrote his poem purposefully in memorizing the Battle of Balaclava fought in the Crimean war between 1854 and 1856. On the contrary, Wilfred Owen shows his resentment towards war as seen in his writings about the First World War. Unlike Tennyson, Wilfred Owen is part of the war which enables him to express his thoughts more accurately. Both poems have strong but divergent opinions about war with Tennyson showing support while Owen is showing disapproval.

The topic of the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ means that it is both a noble and good thing for one to die for their country.

However, Owen presents this as irony because he does not believe that this is true because of the horrific things he associates with war. He takes a firsthand approach in explaining the incidences as he experienced them in the course of the First World War. He vividly depicts the horrors trough description when he asserts that ‘if you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs’ (Owen).

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Alfred Lord Tennyson, on the other hand, uses his poem ‘The Change of the Light Brigade’ as a means of glorifying war. The topic of the poem, in fact, gives the reader a hint that the poem is all about the positive things attributed to war. Although there are differences in the portrayal of war, both show similarity in highlighting the process of fighting and the horrific conditions associated with it. Tennyson on his part, however, avoids the mentioning of death in his poem.

Position of the Poet

The second major point of comparison between the two poems is the position of the poet. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson appears as war propaganda written by someone who had nothing to do with the war. Some of the phrases that point to the fact that Tennyson had nothing to do with the war include “they had fought so well,” and “stormed at with shot and shell.” Furthermore, the poet fails to acknowledge that anyone died or was injured due to the war which could potentially be wrong in the real sense. “Dulce Et Decorum Est’ involves Owen as the poet, a man who experienced the events which he came to write. He remains open with his assertions and does not glorify war or imply that it is heroic to fight. In one of the stanzas, he asserts that ‘I can see no excuse for deceiving you about these last four days. I have suffered the 7th hell” (Owen).

The message that Alfred Lord Tennyson sends to his reader in the poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” is the need for patriotism. Through his eyes, men who fight for their nation show immense nobility. In sending his message about patriotism, he uses phrases such as “when can their glory fade?” “Honor the charge they made” (Tennyson) which illustrates he believes that a man’s worth can only be determined by the desire to take a bullet for their country. However, “Dulce et Decorum Est” provides the readers with a different message regarding the truth of war. In his mind, war is only characterized by chaos and disasters. He takes a realist approach in his poem as he portrays the negative effects of the First World War, which caused many deaths, destructions, and injuries. For instance, he refers to ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ as an old lie to mean that telling people that glorifying death for the sake of a country is a myth.

The two poems show a significant similarity in describing the events surrounding the war on the battlefield. In the poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade,’ the author paints the soldiers facing imminent death as they approach their enemies. ‘Canon to the right of the Cannon to the left of them’ (Tennyson). The soldiers are in a terrifying situation, but the author illustrates their courage and boldness when he asserts that ‘boldly, they rode well, into the jaws of death’ (Tennyson). In ‘Dulce et Decorum Est,” the poet also describes the events of the war by painting a picture of the dying soldiers using metaphors and similes. He further illustrates the distress involved in watching people die at the battlefield when he asserts that ‘and to watch the white eyes writhing in his eyes, his hanging face like a devil’s sick of sin’ (Owen).

In conclusion, Owen focuses on the portrayal of death in discussing the theme of war in his poem. On the other hand, Tennyson reveals the heroic acts seen in the soldiers’ actions in fighting for their country. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ glorifies war and emphasizes on the need for boldness in defending one’s nation. On the contrary, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ reveals the truth about war including deaths, injuries, and destruction as seen during the First World War. The poems are similar in describing strong emotion involved in combat and also the evident as witnessed in the battlefield.

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“Charge of the Light Brigade” vs “Dulce et Decorum Est”. (2022, Feb 04). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/charge-of-the-light-brigade-vs-dulce-et-decorum-est/

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