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"Dulce Et Decorum Est"& "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" - Poem Comparing And Contrasting Essay

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War is a subject that often stirs upon many emotions with those directly or indirectly involved. It may bring tears, memories of suffering and loneliness, struggles, or victories. Such disturbance of peace has wounded and killed many souls. It is on the battlefield we see the most hideous side of human nature, for every soldier's only objective on the battlefield is to survive and win. Many people have opposing views about wars which may have been developed over time based on many factors such as family upbringing, culture, political views, or personal experiences. In the two poems studied, Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum est" and Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade", war has been described with completely opposing views. In the former, Owen describes war as a horrifying and inglorious event with men in war being grim and sorrowful while the soldiers died devastatingly. On the other hand, Tennyson describes war as being a glorious and victorious event where it is an absolute honour for a soldier to die on the gallant battlefield.

To compare and contrast the two poems, the tone of the poems are examined where in "Dulce Et Decorum Est", Owen depicts the war as dismal, while in Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade", the author enlightens the experience of war as a heroic battle. To provide evidence of Owen's dreary portrayal of war, it is illustrated clearly in this tedious scene of war, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge,". (Owen, 1-3) Owen used the simile of comparing soldiers to beggars with ill health and cursing effectively because the comparisons instantly draws accurate pictures in the reader's mind of what Owen witnessed. This portrays a soldier's experience as wearisome and gloomy, behaving as if they are on their way to death. On the other hand, a quotation in Tennyson's poem elevates the experience of war as soldiers with heightened spirits marched rhythmically closer toward their opponents despite the possibility of demise, "Half a league half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred: 'Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns, he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred." (Tennyson, 1-8) The use of repetition in this quotation assisted in giving a sense of anticipation as well as creating a vivid imagery of the bravery of the soldiers, and building up tension as they move forward into the valley of Death.

Not only do Owen's and Tennyson's depictions of war differ immensely, their views on a soldier's deaths hold opposing views as well. Owen describes the unsightly view of the soldier's death with a variety of metaphors and similes while Tennyson portrays a soldier's death as a glorifying and honourable event that would be perpetually celebrated. Owen's poem conveys the distress of witnessing a soldier's death with tremendous details, "And watch the white eyes writhing in his eyes, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues." (Owen, 19-24) Once again Owen successfully created an emotional and meticulous imagery of the soldier's death by illustrating a strong mental image of the soldier squirming in agonizing pain. The metaphors "obscene as cancer" and "bitter as cud" instinctively connects the dreadful sight of the dying soldier to a fatal disease and a horrendous taste. Conversely, one of the quotations in Tennyson's poem provides an apparent portrait of his view about soldiers' deaths in war: "When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder'd. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!" (Tennyson, 53-56) By asking a rhetorical question, he increased the effectiveness of his poem to convince his readers that war is a glorious event and that a deceased soldier's glory will be remembered ceaselessly.



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