The Death of The Soldiers Theme In Poetry
Through the death of the soldiers in Alfred Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” the poems convey a sense of respect that we should have for the soldiers that put their lives at risk for the good of their country. The valiant men in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” were forced by the love of their country to ride “Into the valley of Death,” (7 Tennyson) leaving behind all that they loved and breathing their last breath for England in their fight against Russia. Tennyson conveys the amount of respect that should be given to those men by painting them as glorious and fearless men who had to fight and ride “thro’ the jaws of Death.” (46 Tennyson) Tennyson shows how fearlessly the six hundred men fought and shows why these men deserve respect and praise from the world “Honor the charge they made! Honor the Light Brigade.” (53-54 Tennyson) In “Dulce Et Decorum Est” Owen conveys the same message just through a dark and gritty tone. Owen clearly shows the tough fight these inexperienced drafted soldiers not just with other soldiers but also with the rough terrains they are not used to “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge.” (2-3 Owen) These were men with normal lives thrown into violent situations they weren’t completely trained, war-hungry soldiers. The rough and cruel life these men are given is also the same rough and cruel death they are given “Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud,” (23-24) the man who died wasn’t given a hero’s death dying gloriously in battle instead he was ambushed by a cruel war crime, a death that would be too cruel for an animal. The description of the man’s death makes you feel every emotion the narrator would’ve been feeling in those moments “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood,” (20-22 Owen) the horror felt and the feeling that could have been you standing in that gas makes you respect the man for not even deserting. The horror and death the soldiers of that group have seen making them lose a piece of themselves no respect would be enough for these men surviving alone through the horrors they have seen or the pain that they have felt.
Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” conveys the message of the respect we must give for the soldiers by using repetition while Owen uses gritty imagery in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” to portray the same message. Tennyson repeated words like “Death,” (Tennyson) and “Hell,” (Tennyson) to emphasize the terrifying yet heroic battle the men had on that fateful day. These words convey a feeling of terror with the reader and when Tennyson tells how they “Rode… Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell,” (23-25 Tennyson) it says to the reader how brave and valiant these men were to choose to ride into a fierce battle for their country. Tennyson’s effort in this poem was to bring to the reader’s knowledge of the bravery and courage of these men and how their valor deserves the respect of their country. Owen used sickening and terrifying imagery in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” to portray the same message as “Charge of the Light Brigade.” The amount of gritty description and imagery that is in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” is enough to sicken the reader to their core. Owen made the reader feel the “incurable sores,” (24 Owen) hear the “gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,” (22 Owen) and see the man “guttering, choking, drowning.” (16 Owen) The truly spine-chilling depiction of the death of the soldier is masterfully written showing the true weight of each death in war and shows the terror that each soldier experiences whether they are the one in the gas or the man watching as the other dies a painful and gruesome death. There is no way for one soldier to escape the horrors and useless violence of war every day they are at risk to be maimed or killed or must watch as a fellow meets the same fate as millions have before them, just like the narrator of “Dulce Et Decorum Est” watching as the soldier suffocated.