A Comparison of The Patriot by Robert Browning and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

A Comparison of The Patriot by Robert Browning and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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A Comparison of The Patriot by Robert Browning and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

'The Patriot' by Robert Browning and ' The Charge of the Light
Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson both illustrate two individual views
on the Crimean war. 'The Patriot' is written in the first person using
"I" which portrays the poem as more personal. It is written in the
past tense and recalls the speakers' view of the war, whereas 'The
Charge of the Light Brigade' is written in the third person but also
in the past tense. Both poems take us the reader from the events
during the war to after the war and both poets try and convey their
feelings and emotions concerning the war.

Robert Browning, through his poem, suggests that he was "burgled" in
the metaphorical sense. During the war he was viewed and treated as a
hero and patriot. "Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun". He fought
the war for his country "To give it my loving friends to keep",
keeping it safe and protecting it for his friends and people of his
country. During that time war was glorified and men who went to fight
for "Queen and country" were greatly respected heroes and thought
highly of and the men who fed these images of how they would be viewed
as heroes through propaganda.

The increasing positive tone in the first two stanzas reflects this,
and shows that the speaker enjoyed being viewed as this.

Alfred Lord Tennyson also appears to explore the theme of patriotism
and the idea of men fighting heroically in his poem. He portrays the
'Charge of the Light Brigade' as brave, using words like "onward",
"forward" and "charge" to display this. This suggests the men were
continually battling on against "the valley of death". By using such
exaggerated terms to express war, the poem is able to demonstrate how
brave the men actually were. Alfred Lord Tennyson repeatedly uses
heightened language and by using this technique he effectively gets
his point across to the reader.

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Tennyson's poem was based on a newspaper account describing a battle.
The article glorified the slaughter of the men, but Tennyson allowed
himself to be carried along by the patriotism abounding at the time.
The commander didn't understand the orders given to him to replace
some guns held by the Russians and he sent the Light Brigade up the
wrong valley, "the valley of death", to which the soldiers faced a
certain death. Tennyson 'talks down' the major mistake, all that had
happened is " Someone had blundered".

In the third stanza of Robert Browning's poem the tone changes from a
positive to a negative, more bitter regretful tone. To display how he
went from hero to war criminal after the war, the author uses the same
imagery but expresses it in a negative tone. From, the simile, "The
house-roofs seemed to heave and sway" evoking to the reader the
immense amount of support he received, to in the fourth stanza,
"There's nobody on the house tops now" evidently representing the
transition between the war itself and post war, where "There's
nobody", indicating his support is gone, and the tone suggests that
the speaker is bitter about this. This makes us the reader feel
ashamed rather than sorry, because of the fickleness of the public
response to the hero's actions and services to his country.

Under each stanza, Tennyson uses repetition "the six hundred". The
repetition changes in the fourth stanza and from then on it no longer
conforms to the pattern as before "rode the six hundred" suggesting
how strongly everyone was supporting them. Towards the end this
changes to "Not the six hundred", then ending with "Noble six
hundred". The transition between the two represents death, as after
death they are viewed as noble because they died fighting for their
country. This indicates a more positive end to the poem, but the poem
views war itself as a monster dragging the men helplessly into "the
jaws of Death" and "mouth of hell".

In the second stanza of "Charge of The Light Brigade", Tennyson uses
alliteration, "Theirs but to do and die", by using this technique he
is able to demonstrate the inevitability of them dieing, but at the
same time, the glory of them doing. This line describes the whole
poem, it's a poem about innocent men doing something that is almost
certainly ill fated, and dieing for their cause. The verbs used by
Tennyson in the poem are very important to give this effect.

Tennyson frequently uses the term "jaws of death", "mouth of hell" and
"valley of death" to portray what the speaker viewed war as. This
suggests that entering war itself was going to death, and by using the
words "mouth" ad "jaws" death is portrayed as a monster and
personifies it, and this indicates the soldiers are swallowed up by
death itself. Using the word death in the first stanza gives it a
cadaverous nature and evokes to the reader how negatively the speaker
viewed war.

"The Patriot" is a hero's story of the reward and punishment dealt to
the speaker for his services within one year "this very day, now a
year is run". The poem starts with "it was roses, roses all the way",
which is a very positive tone. Roses are stereotypically red, linking
to blood, war and anger. This link shows that the speaker viewed war
as pleasant because of the fact they were viewed as heroes. The poem
states, "A rope cut both my wrists behind" evidently showing he was
being held as a war criminal after the war. The poem represents how
views changed from fighting the war being glorified to criminal after
the war when the deeds which were once glorified were reviewed and
seen as bad, hence him being held as a criminal.

"The Charge of the Light Brigade" represents a 'before and after' view
of the battle to evoke the effect of the battle to the reader.
Evidence of this can be found when the poem says in a literal sense
"Canon in front of them" indicating they were entering the battle to
"Cannon behind them" as the poem looks back on the war and Robert
Browning takes us the reader on a journey through the battle, looking
back on how bold and brave the men were. "O the wild charge they made"
honours all "six hundred" men, and even after death Tennyson glorifies
them "When can their glory fade?" representing how highly the speaker
viewed these men.

Both poems represent war in a negative way. In the case of Robert
browning, how it changed the speakers life from being thrown from one
extreme to the next, a hero to a criminal and how the war robbed him
of his previous glorification. In the case of Alfred Lord Tennyson,
robbing bold brave men of their lives 'devouring' them into "The
valley of death".

The readers of both poems know that these men were blindly motivated
by loyalty and a sense of duty, and because of this they paid the
price of their own lives.

I think both poets are effective in evoking the passionate feelings
and purpose across to the reader and they both, in their own
individual ways, truly demonstrate how destructive and devastating war
really is, yet still the fighting continues today in Iraq, Ireland,
Afghanistan, Israel, Rwanda, the list is endless, as is war. When will
we learn that all war brings is death, pain and destruction?
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