The Charge of the Light Brigade

9 September 2016

In Mametz Wood, Owen Sheers describes the rediscovery of lost World War 1 graves so that we can be reminded of what happened. Both Alfred Tennyson and Owen Sheers reflect on how fragile life is and that it can be wasted so easily due to war. Both poets use imagery in order for their thoughts and feelings to be portrayed; this shows what the leaders did to the soldiers during the war.

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In The Charge of the Light Brigade Alfred Tennyson personifies death and hell into some sort of monsters that the soldiers can’t escape from because they had ‘jaws of death’ and a ‘mouth of hell’. This shows the reader that the soldiers were seen as not having a chance from the very start and that maybe they were pushed into serving for their country by their s called leaders because they felt as though they needed to do what they thought was right when really it wasn’t right at all.

Both the words ‘death’ and ‘hell’ bring emotions to the readers that are unnatural and not expected, it shows us that the poet wanted the reader to see what war does to a person and that the only option is death which shows that not much thought goes into how loved one and families will cope after the tragedy’s because the leaders failed to think about anybody else but them concluding in them putting their selves before others letting them get hurt.

we also see that Alfred Tennyson wanted to show the reader what these heroes went through and what they had to suffered each and everyday due to their leaders telling them to go forward and fight, he does this by describing how they had to ‘plunge [plunged] in the battery-smoke’. The poet is showing that the soldiers kept on going even through a blinding wall of gun smoke that was there each day; this shows their courage and determination and that they didn’t want to let any one down because they were ordered to do it.

The word ‘plunged’ shows the power of the smoke and how fast it spread it also shows the violence of the smoke and that as it spread it also killed and continued to kill as the war went on. The language in Mametz wood also uses imagery but this is to show the horrors of war and what these soldiers went through to obey orders they were given. We see that the finding of these bodies created havoc and were unexpected to the farmers. The farmers were using ‘plough blades’ to tend to the soil putting it back into place when they come across ‘a chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade’.

This shows the reader how horrific war can be and how fragile the remains of the dead and life its self can be when something undiscovered is found, it also shows that the finding was unexpected making it even worse of behalf of the dead bodies that have eventually been found. The word ‘blades’ creates an image of something violent that can create pain and hurt to people if caught in it like war , but it also creates an image of truth and the eventual finding of these bodies may put many minds at rest and that these bodies will never be forgotten due to the what happened in the war.

We see that the soldiers are belittled to be seen as being a bird when the poet states ‘the blown/ and broken bird’s egg of a skull’. This suggest that the leaders of this war let these brave and determined soldiers down, they let them die for their country doing what ever they could to do to make it right. It also shows the reader that by the poet belittling these soldiers its as if it was the leaders were belittling them showing them that they are second best and that they didn’t have the heart to send the soldiers back to where they were known best or to their loved ones because they knew they would be in the wrong.

The thoughts and feelings in both of these poems both show what leaders caused during the war and how it affected others. The Charge of the Light Brigade is seen to show admiration through out, due to the poet admiring the soldier’s bravery because even thought there was cannons all around them they still ‘boldly rode and well, – into the jaws of death’.

This shows the reader that these men sacrificed their lives because their leaders told to them to carry on, it suggests that no matter what they got told to do they would do it because they were determined to obey the orders that they were given even if they knew that it was the wrong decision or they thought death would be likely doing this. It also suggest that the poet admired them because they were brave and skilful no matter what horror they were about to face. The word ‘boldly’ shows the reader that they were determined and that they would attempt to do their mission with pride to show people that they could do it, it also suggests that they may have done it with all their power and determination because they knew that death would be round the corner and that they wanted to show people that they never gave up.

We also see a sense of admiration at the very end of the poem when it states ‘noble six hundred’ this sums up the way the poet wanted the cavalry to be remembered which included the soldiers that died. It also shows the reader that no matter what these soldiers were heroes in everyone’s eyes and that nobody can change the way we see them. It suggests that this last line is touched with a sense of sadness due to most of the soldiers dying which means that they are now a memory to the world.

The word ‘noble’ suggest that these soldiers showed courage, generosity and honour and that the fought as hard as they could make them admired by many especially those that didn’t go into war. Mametz wood on the other hand uses the memory of these soldiers to create feelings that are portrayed to the reader so that they can’t forget the lives that were lost and that the leaders should have done something about the bodies of those brave enough to die fighting for their country.

We first see that the leaders didn’t do the soldiers justice when they died because they were left a ‘foreign body’. This suggests that the memory of these poor soldiers may have been forgotten due to their leaders not sending them back to what they knew best it also suggest that they died somewhere they shouldn’t have maybe due to following orders that were incorrect. It also suggests that because these bodies died in another country their memory from where they did come from may have vanished showing the reader that nobody should forget the past or be forgotten when not in home territory.

The word ‘foreign’ sounds unnatural for a soldier to have died like that and to be known as that, it also sounds as though they had no importance due to them been seen as no one but a dead body. We also see that these soldiers memory had been lost until they were finally found, Sheers states ‘only now, with this unearthing’ this emphasises to the reader the time it took for these bodies to be discovered and for them to be finally remembered as being heroes.

It also suggests that because they had been found from the past that now they would be remembered in history showing that they will never be forgotten again. On the other hand this could suggest that the leaders of this war didn’t care about anybody but their selves and that they didn’t care about giving these people the respect that they deserved. The overall feelings and attitudes from both of these poems show the reader that the leaders from these wars made the wrong decisions which in the long run created a sense that these soldiers were betrayed which affects the reader massively.

The form and structure of both of the poems is presented to show the reader that it is in chronological order. In The Charge of the Light Brigade we see that the leaders send their troops forward even though they knew that they were sending them to death, we see this at the very beginning when the poem when Tennyson states ‘cannon to right of them, -cannon to left of them, -cannon in front of them’. This is repeated further on but is slightly different showing that the poem is in order and that the soldiers continued to go forward even though they knew what was there.

This shows the reader that these people were sent forward no matter what was there and that their leaders didn’t care for other peoples lives and they thought that the commands were the only thing that mattered. Also the repetition makes it clear to the reader that that they are surrounded and that there is no way back because the opponents were armed with weapons much more powerful. The repetition of the word ‘cannon’ suggests pure violence and that these weapons would kill anybody if they needed to.

It also suggests that the opposition needed those weapons in order for them to stay strong and supreme. We see that the poem is also like a story as you go through the stanzas and that the leaders never chose to get their troops to retreat all they said was ‘forward the light brigade’ showing the reader that the leaders didn’t care that they were sending people to their death. Also the repetition from line 5 in stanza 1 shows us that the leader was determined and that he constantly said this command as if he knew what was going to happen but need his troops do the job before it was too late.

It also suggests to the reader that these soldiers where heroic because of what they were doing and that not only the reader but the poet respect their bravery and determination. In Mametz wood the poem switches from telling the poem as a story chronologically to telling the reader what is happening in present day we see this between stanza’s 4 and 5, it becomes clear to the reader when we hear ‘This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave’.

This shows the reader that the poet felt like he needed to show us what happened before hand and what is now happening. It suggests to the reader that things are changing but that leaders overall do not change, because the leaders of the First World War commanded their soldiers to fight and then left them to die by their selves with no loved ones. It shows the reader that these poor people have finally been put to rest and that they no longer are following their leader’s orders.

We also see that in Mametz wood is written in terects and that there is no regular rhyme, this is particularly because it switches from past to present- between the skeletons being discovered and the skeletons be reburied- it shows us that the earth is presenting ‘reminders of what happened’ to both the reader and the peoples families that lost someone, it shows us that the poet made these people seem distant because they were never found and because they died for others and he wants us to feel sorry for them.

Also because it is a ‘reminder’ shows the reader that these innocent people had been forgotten because their leaders didn’t do anything which creates a sad tone overall. The over all structure of these poems shows the reader that the leaders from both wars caused chaos and disruption but it is written in a simple and easy way to understand. Although The Charge of the Light Brigade and Mametz Wood focus on completely different wars they complement each other due to both of their leaders making the wrong decisions that had consequences on the soldiers.

Alfred Tennyson’s poem was written in disbelief as a man that was well educated he probably did not think he would come across anything like this as he never experienced it first hand but he learnt about it and what the horrors of war can do. The fact that Tennyson described the soldiers as being ‘noble’ shows us that he had a lot of respect for the soldiers and that even though he didn’t experience it first hand he wanted people to be able to understand war in a simpler way that others could relate to in many years to come.

Also the poem shows the reader that Tennyson understood what the leaders did and didn’t agree with it even after only learning about it. Owen sheers also didn’t experience war first hand but he felt saddened by the ‘wasted young’ because he knows that it is a wasted life and a lost loved one, which he knows is down to the lack of knowledge from the leaders. The way that Mametz Wood is written suggests that Sheers wanted to be distance but give the clarity of hindsight of the findings.

Also the description is almost worded in archaeological terms which suggest that these people were forgotten. The fact that there is a feeling of human tragedy shows us that leaders let these people die and the leaders in modern day still let their soldiers die. It has clearly been shown within these two poems that leaders of conflict cause the loss of lives and lots of heartache due to wrong decisions being made. Each poem is a reflection of what leaders can cause and what they can do to people; they show extremes that soldiers have to go through when being given different commands.

They both give graphical descriptions of death which creates disturbing imagery for the reader meaning that they don’t forget it easily due to it being a real life situation. Both The Charge of the Light Brigade and Mametz wood make us sympathise with the soldiers that participated in those wars but also for the soldiers that fight to this day which concludes in us respecting them massively and having a feeling of abhorrence for the leaders that let those innocent people die day in day out.

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