A Comparison Of "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" by Alfred Tennyson and "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen.

Essay by Locksta June 2004

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The Crimean war in the 1850s and the Great War in the early 1900s have both been an inspiration for great prose and poetry. Two such examples are "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Tennyson inspired by the famous attack of the 1854, and "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen written following the Great War. They both portray a vivid image of war, but the poets give the impression of having completely opposing views on the subject.

The Charge of the Light Brigade, commemorated by Tennyson's poem, was the charge of British cavalry into the "Valley of Death" held by Russian troops in November 1854. The Crimean War was launched to dispel the last pockets of resistance within the nineteenth century British Empire. Whether or not it was seen as good or bad, this war had a clear, well defined purpose, in contrast, the Great War of 1914-18 which is the backdrop to Owen's "Disabled", has been seen by many as pointless and having no clear purpose.

This is reflected in Owen's heavy style of writing, inspiring pathos for those whose lives were torn apart by the tragedies of war.

Tennyson, although not necessarily glorifying war in itself, glorifies and celebrates what was a piric victory. Tennyson glorifies the charge with the telling of the cavalry's sabres flashed "bare, as they turned in the air Sabering the gunners there," and plunging "in the battery smoke right through the line they broke." Commendable as their breaking of the Russian gunners line may have been, Tennyson showers this with heroism calling it "Bold" and "Noble", while appearing to give very little thought to the carnage caused to both sides in the name of nothing more than "honour".

Owen, in contrast, centres very much on the futility of war and the...