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Compare and Contrast ”Dulce et Decorum Est” and ”Charge Of The Light Brigade” Essay Sample

  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1,415
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: poetry

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Introduction of TOPIC

Both poet’s, Owen and Tennyson, are writing about their own experiences of war, they both give their own views on the event and on the soldiers participating in the war.Owen’s attitude to war is very effective because it does the job that Owen intended it to do, and this was to bring the reader to reality which in Owens time was the period 1914-18 during which the 1st World War occurred. WhereasTennysons attitude to war is very different to Owens because Tennyson describes a more jingoistic, ironic view on war. Tennyson isn’t trying to bring the reader to reality, Tennyson is trying to bring the reality to the reader, he is in fact gloryifying war.

(Comments) – does time make a difference on war with new technology being developed or is it just the way the poet’s


The opening stanza of ‘Dulce’ is soporific because Owen describes the way the soldiers are feeling:

“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge”

But Owen gradually makes the poem more tense and action-packed as the poem progresses. Owen also tells us how the soldiers would face their death,

“He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.”

Tennysons style is very different to Owens because Tennyson is using alot of repetition because Tennysons poem is in the form of a ballad and ballads often are repetitive, whereas Owen does not use that much repetition, Owen only uses repetition where it gives the reader a sense of impact:

“GAS!GAS!Quick boys!”

Owen is writing about the war the way he experienced it. Tennyson is writing about a group of soldiers called The Light Brigade who rode through the valley of death and faced the opposition who were armed with cannons and all that the Light Brigade had for weapons were sabres. From comapring the two poems you can straightaway see that whatever Tennyson has written Owen has written the opposite. Tennyson is trying to make the Light Brigade’s failure a success by making it more masculine and more dynamically jingoistic, whereas Owen is writing the poem from his own experience, so he writes it the way that he saw the war, so he starts off soporifically and also adds a feminine touch to the poem whereas Tennyson is writing in masculine all the way through the poem, notice the use of both masculine and feminine from both poets, Owen then makes it more action packed and then soporific.

(Comments) – Does the jingoism and onomatopoeic words bring the tone of voice, or is it just the styles that both Owen and Tennyson are writing in?


Like I said before how Owen satrst off soporifically, that all changes in an instant when Owen says, ‘GAS!GAS!’, the tempo and tone of the poem has changed dramatically. Another aspect that Owen has used excellently is the use of cinemamode, he starts using cine

ma right after he says, ‘GAS!GAS!’, because Owen is inviting us to see what is going on,

he shows us this cinemamode through the eys of a soldiers goggles:

“Dim through the misty panes and thick green lights, as under a greensea, I saw him drowning.”

So Owen here wants us to see how the soldiers are crippling towards their death and also how the atmosphere is like.

Owens art of writing is concrete whereas to say that it is real, not made up. However Tennysons art of writing is artificial or abstract, whereas to say that it is not real eg:

“Into the valley of Death, Rode the six hundred.”

Paying particular attention to, “Into the valley of Death.” Also Tennyson repetises ‘Rode the six hundred’ at the end of each stanza because Tennsyon is reminding the reader of the enormous loss of life, but at the end of teh poem, ‘Rode the six hundred’ had become, ‘Noble six hundred’, and are celebrated as heroes. Tennyson doesn’t use cinema-mode frankly because his poem was written in the 1850’s, whereas Owens was written in the period of 1914-18 where the technology was starting to come around. Tennysons poem is not concrete enough to be a war poem because it does not have the same impact as Owens.

Owen doesn’t use a lot of repetition because he is writing what he saw in real life and thinks that there is no need for repetition but Owen uses repetition twice:

“As under a green sea, I saw him drowning,” and “He plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning.”

Only drowning is repetised and also notice how the tone of voice changes from one line to the next. Whereas, Tennysons tone of voice stays the same all the way through, Tennyson also uses a lot of repetition because Tennysons so-called poem is actually in the form of a ballad and ballads are traditionally repetised. Tennysons also emphasies the use of rhetorical questions:

“When can their glory fade?”

Tennysons poem is very masculine, dynamic, jingoistic, very ambigous and ironic. Tennyson has deliberately written the poem in the form of a ballad because Tennyson was a civilian poet whereas Owen was a war poet and Owen was an eyewitness of the event they are both writing and Tennyson wasn’t.

(Comments) – Owens poem is more like a short film but Tennysons is more like a ballad.


The language use by Owen is used very efficiently. Owen starts off writing masculine but in one position Owen reverses this and starts off with feminine and ending with masculine whereas before Owen would start off masculine and end in feminine. Owen has emphasised the use of the line and reversed it. However, Tennysons use of language is mainly masculine seeing as Tennysons poem is very jingoistic and jingoism only works with masculine. Tennysons language is more patriotic and jingoistic, aslo in Tennysons poem there is a lot of irony and rhetorical questions, ‘Was there a man dismay’d?’, ‘When can their glory fade?’. Whereas Owen in one particular part of the poem increases the tone into a more urgent tone, ‘GAS!GAS! Quick boys!’ Owen is inviting us (the reader) to condemn war, and to not be neutral. Whereas Tennyson is being the complete opposite Tennyson is inviting us to be patriotic with him. Tennyson exaggerates a lot in the poem which is meant to be a ballad. Also, Owens language is that effective that you can go stright from words to pictures fully emphasising the use of cinemamode.

(Comments) – What is Owen trying to achieve with the use of language that he uses? If Tennyson had used louder expressions, then perhaps his poem would have been non-artificial.

Closing Thoughts

Owen gives us a detailed picture of war: he talks in the first person, ‘I saw him drowning’, and describes one dying man, in contrast to Tennysons rather impersonal ‘Six hundred’. Owen wants us to imagine that we are actually there on the battlefield so we get an idea of what it was like. Owens poem is the closest we will get to experiencing such atrocities and if we had, Owen tells us in the final lines, then we would not glorify the war any more. In the Preface to his poems, published after his death, Owen wrote, ‘All a poet can do today is warn, that is why true poets must be truthful’. This is why Owen criticises ‘the high zest’ that some people have for ‘the old Lie’ of the glory of war, and this is why I think that ‘Dulce’ is the more powerful poem of the two.

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