Analyzing Presentation Of Glory And Heroism Of War English Literature Essay

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The Charge of the Light Brigade is comprised of six stanzas varying in length from six to twelve lines. Each line is dimeter so starts with two stressed syllables making the rhythm dactylic, "Cannon to the right of them/ Cannon to the left of them". This creates a galloping and marching rhythm relevant to the content of the poem and the stanzas show the gradual progression of the battle. The rhyme scheme varies with each verse and it is very stylistic and clear, "Plunged in the battery-smoke/ Right thro' the line they broke… Reel'd from the sabre-stroke". However, there is no set rhyme scheme.

Dulce Et Decorum Est is pieced together with three stanzas varying in length, the first two consist of eight lines, the third of twelve. The stanzas, too, show the gradual progression of the battle. Owen uses very vivid description and hyperbole to make the fight more gruesome and realistic, to shake the readers out of believing the war was something to celebrate over. He uses phrases like "All went lame; all blind/ Drunk with fatigue; Deaf even to the hoots" This last phrase meant the soldiers had become so used to the sound of guns that the "hoots" had become natural to them. This implies the non-heroic scene we are presented with is less than "noble" like Tennyson describes in his poem.

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Both poems finish with a stanza that directly addresses the reader with a thought to leave with; both support the poet's opinion of war.

In The Charge of the Light Brigade the final enthusiastic message we are left with is that it is courageous to die for your country because their "glory" can never "fade". Tennyson describes the charge they made as "wild" and says "all the world wonder'd", this line is repeated and highlights that actions go beyond comprehension. He directly tells the reader to "Honour the charge they made" and "Honour the Light Brigade" Tennyson tries to persuade the reader to believe the war presented glory and heroism in his poem.

However, In Dulce Et Decorum Est, the last scene is filled with horrific imagery to make Owens point of how not sweet and right it is to die for your country. It is written in Latin and was often quoted at the start of World War Two. Being in Latin gives the lines a more sophisticated and classical message and this makes the lines more emphatic because they sound as if a well educated person would say them. He tells of "vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues", meaning normal, innocent people were suffering from life-threatening illnesses due to this "honourable", as Tennyson describes it, battle. His last couple of lines says to tell the future generations of "The old Lie" which is 'It is sweet and right to die for your country'. This has the biggest impact in the whole piece because the reader can almost hear Owens sarcasm as we read these lines. We feel he is sickened to think some people actually don't think it's a lie. He wants the reader to know it isn't honourable, like Tennyson implies.

Both poems also finish with a short statement to make a bigger impact on the reader, both only three words in length. In The Charge of the Light Brigade it tells us there is nothing noble about war, 'it's not sweet and right", whereas the last line in Dulce Et Decorum Est recites a line it has repeated several time before, "noble six hundred". These final lines together contradict each other and each summarise the content of each poem.

 

The Charge of the Light Brigade has the theme of the positivity and honour of death and war. The poem is a moving tribute to courage and heroism in the face of a devastating defeat and this is the tone that is reflected clearly seen when the poet asks, "When can their glory fade?" By asking this rhetorical question the reader agrees with the sentiment being an opinion. There is an attempt at a regular balance between brutality and nobility throughout which creates a rousing tone. Lines such as "while horse and hero fell" are alternated with lines that tell of the nobility of the battle. This makes the reader think that Tennyson is trying to weigh up the horrible points as well as the courageous points to show he has considered both views of the battle. However, his positive connotations out-balance his negative ones, helping present the glory and heroism of war. There is a rousing chant which emphasises the tone, "Half a league, half a league/ Half a league onward". In the fourth stanza, after the fury of the charge, the tone becomes more gentle and relaxed to reflect the sorrow-laden atmosphere, "They rode back, but not/ Not the six hundred". Tennyson repeats the 'not' to emphasise the loss and to stress the reality of the conflict.

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Dulce Et Decorum Est has the theme of the negativity and horror of death and war and there are many negative connotations in the poem, including, "outstripped", "devil's sick of sin" and "bitter as the cud". In this last negative connotation, Owen is referring to the regurgitated grass that cows chew and he uses this to vividly describe the similar looking substance issuing from the soldier's mouth. This truly is a sickening image and Owen has included this to stun his readers from believing in the glorified and heroic side to the war, as is portrayed in The Charge of the Light Brigade. The title contrasts to the content, translating to mean 'It's sweet and right', and it suggests war and patriotic duty and death for one's country is all "sweet and right". This misleads the reader into thinking this before they read on and realise its emphasis on the horror of war. Owen uses onomatopoeia to imitate the sounds of the environment, "knock-kneed", "we cursed through sludge", and "coughing like hags". This technique creates the effect that the reader is a part of the action and it magnifies the reality of the scene.

Owen uses the phrase "an ecstasy of fumbling" whilst he ventures into the topic of a gas attack. Ecstasy usually refers to a man in a 'world of his own' meaning in delight. This is irony because the man dying a horrific death from gas would be feeling in the total opposite of delight. Owen could have also meant it as the man was in a near-death experience. This is a thoughtful way to picture the scene because it highlights the test against time to survive the gas attack.

Owen uses personification when he describes the helmets as "clumsy", which hits us with the contrast of how soldiers need to move quickly. Owens writing techniques draws the reader in to find the poem more interesting and relatable to the reader. Owen uses horrific imagery as a soldier dies from the gas attack, using the metaphor of him drowning. Being gasses is often described similarly to drowning because you drown in your own blood. "He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning" portrays the nightmarish and surreal tone. Owen uses numerous references to dull slimy colours, "lime", "green sea" and "green light". Although the glass in the gas helmet would have shown everything as green, we associate this colour with unpleasantness, like slime, mucus and the colour of sickness.

 

 

Dulce Et Decorum Est is known for it's horrific imagery and condemnation of war, which emphasises the theme. Owen uses other language devices, the strong adjective "writhing", "white eyes writhing", which portrays the eyes moving in a twisted, snake-line fashion. This disgusting imagery makes the reader realise how horrific it must have been for one of the soldiers. Owen uses alliteration to create an eerie, distressing tone, "wagon", "watch", and "white". This also highlights the theme. In the poem there is a tripling of adjectives, "guttering, chocking, drowning". These are all negative connotations of death and make a greater impact on the reader.

Owen uses similes to highlight the negative connotations of death and war, "like a man on fire". Here he described a man who couldn't manage to fit his gas mask on in time and the reader imagines the torturous scene the other soldiers had to witness. He also uses the similes, "like old beggars" and "like hags", which makes the reader think of witches and the unnatural. Owen then goes on to talk about the "haunting flares". These three images together create the sense of foreboding and reinforce the fearful, torturous atmosphere.

In the last stanza Owen goes all out to make the reader understand the true horrors the men had to face in war by describing a dead body in a wagon they took back with them. "If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood/ Come gargling… My friend, you would not tell with such high zest", like in the Charge of the Light Brigade, "The old Lie; 'It is sweet and right to die for your country". Owen is directly telling reader the true significance an image like that one of the man in the wagon could do to you, which is scar you for life. Owen uses this almost hypnotic tone when he says "my friend" to highlight fully the gory scenes of war and make us believe what he is saying.

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The Charge of the Light Brigade is effective largely in the way it conveys the movement and sound of the charge. Tennyson does this by using strong, repetitive falling meter, "Half a league, half a league/ Half a league onward." The plodding pace of the repetitions seems to convey the groups of soldiers marching together in a pretty continuous pace. The poem doesn't speak of individual troops, like in Dulce Et Decorum Est, but rather of "the six hundred" and then "all that was left of them". Lord Raglan went down in history for sending a faulty instruction to 'Charge' when many men were killed because of his "blunder", as it says in the poem, however a name was never given which highlights Tennyson's generalisation rather than Owens' tendency to describe each soldier individually

There is repeated imagery of death, "Theirs but to do and die/ Into the valley of death", which adds to the sense of courage these men must have had to keep on fighting after numerous encounters with their own deaths. Tennyson doesn't offer an abstract tranquil death but instead a predatory and menacing death, "into the mouth of hell", "Into the jaws of death". Both these sayings relate to animal features that enhance the viciousness the soldiers are faced with, making them seem more heroic.

Tennyson also has several tries at nature, "Thunder'd" and "Storm'd", this reinforces Tennyson's positive theme planting the idea in the reader's mind that war in natural and shouldn't be feared. Owen seems like he wants to view the battle entirely on attitude rather than ability when he describes the soldiers as "boldly they rode and well". This is an irrelevant fact at a crucial time in the battle to point out but it could be because Tennyson doesn't want us to focus on the gruesome side willing the reader to remember the soldiers for their courageousness rather than go though what they had to go through and witness.

The poem makes use of anaphora, "Cannon to the right of them/ Cannon to the left of them/ Cannon in front of them" This method helps create a sense of unrelenting assault and as the readers eyes meet the work "cannon" in each line, the soldiers meet their flying shells.

 

 

Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade as a celebration of the heroic soldiers in the Light Brigade who fell in service to their commander and their cause. The poem glorifies war and courage, even in cases of complete inefficiency and waste.

Owen wrote Dulce Et Decorum Est to portray his negative view against glorifying war and telling tales of how 'sweet and right' it is to die for ones country.

My favourite poem of the two is Dulce Et Decorum Est because it is much more fascinating and credible. The reader is presented with realistic scenes that are described in such a way, by Owen, to capture and keep the reader's attention.

I feel both poems are effective in the way they try to persuade the reader to believe the poet's opinions of war, however, I believe Dulce Et Decorum Est is more poignant and impressive.