The Charge of the Light Brigade flashcards

Flashcards by katiehumphrey, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by katiehumphrey over 6 years ago


GCSE English (The Charge of the Light Brigade) Flashcards on The Charge of the Light Brigade flashcards, created by katiehumphrey on 01/17/2014.

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subject The Crimean War was fought between Britain and Imperial Russia from 1853-1856. For the first time in history, newspapers carried eye-witness reports as well as detailing not just the triumphs of war but the mistakes and horrors as well. The most significant moment in the Crimea came during the Battle of Balaclava. An order given to the British army's cavalry division (known as the Light Brigade) was misunderstood and 600 cavalrymen ended charging down a narrow valley straight into the fire of Russian cannons. Over 150 British soldiers were killed, and more than 120 were wounded. At home the news of the disaster was a sensation and a nation that had until then embraced British military exploits abroad began to question the politicians and generals who led them.
form and structure The poem has a strong rhythm. For example "half a league, half a league" two light beats followed by a heavy beat expresses the sound of the horses galloping. There are six numbered stanzas, as if each stanza is a memorial stone to 100 of the 600 cavalrymen. The length of the stanzas reflect the structure of the story. The first three stanzas - the Light Brigade is approaching the guns. There is a strong structure. Three lines (of three six-to-seven syllables) are followed by a shorter line (five syllables: "rode the six hundred"). This pattern suggests the strong formation in which the cavalry charge. Stanza two – the Light Brigade has engaged the enemy so the longer stanzas describe the struggle. The structure starts to break down. The rhythm of stanza four, for example, is broken by four shorter lines, while stanza five has only two short lines (lines 42 and 48). The desperate attempt to retreat is expressed in the run of six longer lines (43-48). Stanza six is a short, sharp conclusion written as if they are the lines we should remember the Light Brigade by.
imagery The strong central image of the "valley of Death" (lines 3,7 and 16) refers to a well-known poem in the bible - Psalm 23 - about the 'valley of the shadow of death'. By using this Biblical allusion, Tennyson shows how important the event is.
sound Tennyson uses a wide variety of techniques to provide the poem with highly effective sound effects. Alliteration, for example, is used to express the sounds of battle. Note the sound of bullets in line 22 ("shot and shell"). The poem has a strong rhythm. For example "half a league, half a league" two light beats followed by a heavy beat expresses the sound of the horses galloping.
themes and ideas Tennyson's job as poet laureate was to capture the public mood and, given the poem is still so well-known, he certainly did that. But the feelings in the poem can appear to be ambiguous – in other words, can be seen in two different ways. How much outrage is there in this poem, though? Part of its success is the way Tennyson recreates the energy of battle – "half a league, half a league". The final stanza does not express any anger at politicians and generals. It does, however, show delight at what they did: "O the wild charge they made!" The poem therefore seems to be more concerned with creating national heroes for a nation than mourning the dead soldiers or arguing against the war.
comparison to 'Mametz Wood' Mametz Wood – this poem is also about remembering soldiers who have died in war but it is the opposite both in its tone and its treatment of the theme. Tennyson, living at the time of the events he describes, sets out to build a monument to them in poetry so their "glory" will never "fade". Sheers is living long after the event. There is no glory here. Instead he sets out to create a small hymn so the fallen soldiers will be remembered for their own brave deeds in battle.
comparison to 'Bayonet Charge' Bayonet Charge – this poem is linked by subject matter: a soldier charging in battle. The treatment, however, is different. Tennyson creates a rich impression of the whole action from a kind of widescreen perspective (a brigade charging down a long valley). Hughes is much closer to the action he describes. He focuses on the experience of one man. So instead of exploring the impact of a military action on a nation, Hughes analyses the emotional response of an individual within a nation's war.
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