Compare & Contrast the Portrayal of War in Dulce Et Decorum Est & Charge of the Light Brigade.

Topics: Charge of the Light Brigade, Crimean War, Poetry Pages: 6 (2305 words) Published: January 21, 2008
Tennyson's Charge of The Light Brigade and Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est both explore warfare. However they each have significant differences. Charge Of The Light Brigade was written in the 18th Century and is about the Crimean War. It explains, in a very majestic manner, that fighting in a war is something every soldier should be extremely proud of. Sacrifices have to be made and bravery is an absolute necessity. Tennyson ignores the darkness and slaughter of war by emphasising the courage and loyalty that the soldiers have for their country. They do not show fear, even when they are attacked with weapons much greater and deadlier than their own. Dulce Et Decorum Est was written in the 20th Century. It depicts war, in this case WW1, an exact opposite to Charge Of The Light Brigade. Owen wants to dispel the lie that describes war as a place of pride and brightness, when in reality it is a place of bloodshed and obscurity. Owen knows first hand the devastation of combatting in war because he experienced it himself; therefore he ridicules the renowned title ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est', which means ‘it is sweet and fitting' by recounting the horrifying scenes that he has unfortunately witnessed, and consequently leads his poem to a clever conclusion involving the Latin phrase.

Ducle Et Decorum Est opens with a very striking line, ‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,' and although we do not know what or who is being compared to this unpleasant description, it is already clear that this poem is not going to praise war but harshly criticise it. The next line, ‘Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,' again draws a terrifying picture in our minds. We are still unsure of what the poem is actually referring to at this point, however the portrayal of the scene creates a mood of apprehension and sets a gloomy feel to the poem. ‘Towards our distance rest, began to trudge.' This line is rather intriguing, as, at first analysis it seems as if the unknown characters are slowly journeying towards their destination where they will finally be able to relax, however if you read more into the line then you notice that this ‘distant rest' that the author is referring to could actually mean their death beds, where they can rest in peace forever more. Owen reveals how ‘Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood-shod.' These short, simple yet exceptionally expressive sentences add to the feeling of exhaustion that the characters obviously feel and the assonance within them is particularly effective as it accentuates the horror of the situation. They are yearning to rest but they carry on even when they are wounded and have nothing on their tired feet. They are ‘Drunk with fatigue' this is an interesting phrase to use, as it is perfect to illustrate that there is a subtle line between drunkenness and tiredness. It gives the idea that those who the poem is talking about are so shattered that they are stumbling and falling around, just like you would if you where under the impression of alcohol. The next line uses enjambment to keep the readers in suspense as to what is actually happening. Then, at last we learn that the men are ‘deaf even to the hoots/of gas-shells dropping softly behind.' As soon as this is read it is clear that these people are involved in a war. The shells are clarified as being ‘soft' which is peculiar as it is evident that bombs are noisy, menacing and brutal, however this enhances the fact that the men are ‘deaf even to the hoots'. This first verse was written in a deliberately slow manner, this is so the readers can contemplate the idea of war being draining and ghastly, in contrast to Charge Of The Light Brigade. The second verse starts abruptly, ‘Gas! Gas! Quick boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,' this is so readers are alert to what is happening in the poem and they are drawn in to the situation as if they were actually there. Owen writes in a way that makes apparent to the...
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