Comparing the Presantation of Conflict in the Charge

Category: Conflict, Poetry, Sonnet
Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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Compare the presentation of conflict in ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Tennyson and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen. Alfred Lord Tennyson and Wilfred Owen are both poets who write about the conflict of war and its victims. ‘The Charge of the light brigade’ written by Lord Alfred Tennyson, it is based on a disastrous and real event that unfolded in the frimean war. The poem was written as a memorial for the numerous soldiers that died in the war. However the ‘Anthem for doomed youth’ is a sonnet written by Wilfred Owen.

He writes about his feelings for the young men that he fought with on the front line in the Somme. Firstly, in both poems we are presented with imagery revealing the reality of the wartime battlefield this is called aural imagery. In ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ the words “into the valley of death” are used, this is a metaphor suggesting that the Light Brigade charged themselves to their death, this shows the fierceness of battle and how people many people will died.

The words “charge for the guns” proposes of the certain death that the soldiers will meet and how suicidal this charge is, it also suggests the madness of the war. Tennyson says “cannon to right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them” this shows the confusion through the soldiers and the fierce fighting that is happening in this war. Whereas, in Owens poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ the more graphic and hurried side of war is shown.

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Owen uses the words “for these who die as cattle” suggests the soldiers are abandoned in their own death and there is no way out, it could also suggest that they are sent to be slaughtered just like ‘cattle’ this proposes the tragedy and casualties of war. The words “monstrous anger of the guns” implies that the soldiers are scared of the guns and by likening the guns to monsters; this is showing the soldiers are young as it is typically children who are scared of monsters.

Owen also uses the words “hasty orisons” this shows how the dead are not cared for and given an inappropriate burial, and it also shows the speed and rushed tone of war. It could also suggest the people who are praying are not only praying for the dead but also praying for their own lives. Tennyson presents the realism of war as a desperate place where heroes are born, he does not show the reality of war, which might be due to the fact he has not experienced it himself. In contrast Owen presents the reality of war well as he shows the gruesomeness and bitter sadness of war using aural imagery.

In Stanza two of ‘charge of the light brigade’ Tennyson writes ‘O the wild charge they made! ’ this shows the recklessness of the charge as Tennyson states the word ‘wild’ and also the pointlessness of the charge, Tennyson uses the word ‘made’ this shows it was in the past and we remember the past like we remember the dead soldiers. Owen uses the phrase ‘No mockeries now for them, no prayers nor bells’ this illustrates how critical Owen is of religious ritual. The phrase ‘passing bells’ could also suggest that the soldiers never got a proper burial.

In Tennyson’s poem he exclaims ‘honour the charge they made, Honour the light brigade’ this indicates that Tennyson is ordering us to remember them for what they did for their country as they are already dead but on the other hand, in Owens sonnet he says ‘And each slow dusk a drawing down of the blinds’ this points out that every night as the sun goes down the soldiers family waiting patiently for them to come back, ‘slow dusk going down’ could represent their patience and hope lowering. Thirdly, in both poems there is use of aural imagery or onomatopoeia.

We see this in Owen’s sonnet as he writes ‘rifles rapid rattles’ this is also a metaphor; he says this to create an atmosphere and give us a feel of what it’s like on the battlefield, later in the sonnet he also states ‘the shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells’ this makes the atmosphere horrifying as we assume that screams are caused by pain or fear but in this case they have already got pain before the bullet has even got to them, this is because they have been traumatised by the intensity of battle.

In Tennyson’s poem he uses the phrase ‘Volley’d and thunder’d’ this is used to show how the bullets where sent back and forth with some cannons in between representing the thunder I could also represent the one smaller army being bullets and the more powerful army being the loud prevailing army, ‘thunder’d is a use of apocalyptic imagery which is a way to describe the disaster of war as we associate thunder with danger and authority.

As well as the above Tennyson also uses the phrase ‘storm’d at with shot and shell’ this shows the confusion of war and the low visibility it relates back to the above quote as thunder comes in storms which could mean that the cannon shots come in packs, the word "shot" and "shell" are a violent, noisy, destructive force that that could be thought about in a storm. In both poems both poets use rhetorical questions in their poems, Tennyson says ‘Was there a man dismayed? this gives us an insight into the heads of these soldiers, trying to imagine how it must feel to charge into death head on. Tennyson asks if any of the soldiers were ‘dismayed’ which means to lose your courage or to be overcome by terror. The soldiers were going through hell on the battlefield and it would be a pretty normal reaction for the circumstances that they were in. On the other hand in Owens sonnet his asks about remembrance as he states ‘What candles may be held to speed them all? this could mean a more general question like ‘what rituals can people possible perform to help these soldiers pass on peacefully? ’ these could be Rituals like lighting candles in church. This means we could than say that ‘these candles’ is a metaphor for the larger ceremonies we hold when to honouring those killed in action. As well as Owens question about remembrance and honouring Tennyson last question is also, as he proposes the question ‘When can their glory fade? he is trying to say ‘when wont they be known as legends’ as they have fought for their country when they were outnumbered one to a hundred but they did not oblige, they risked certain death for all for one cause. In conclusion, both poets have written their poems to convey the tragedy of war and to emphasise the importance of remembrance. I feel also wrote their poems to honour those who risked their lives and most had their lives taken for their country and queen. This makes the audience reflect on war as the poets have created a mental picture of the horrific scenes of war.

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Comparing the Presantation of Conflict in the Charge. (2016, Dec 14). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/comparing-the-presantation-of-conflict-in-the-charge-of-the-light-brigade-and-anthem-for-doomed-youth/

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