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War Authors / British Literature

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The authors, Tennyson, Owen and Yeats have different attitudes toward conflict, specifically - war. Tennyson's idea of war is that even when battles are lost, we should paint a picture of obedience, heroes, duty and commitment toward our country. Lives lost are worth the price, and troops should forever be remembered. Yeats suggests a more negative attitude that includes questioning the price we pay for those lives lost as well as the suffering of the people left behind. He also points out the longer wars (or troops' time away from family) intrude on life, the worse the suffering becomes, and the more hardened the hearts become. Last, we have Owen who has the most extreme and negative attitude of war. He holds that the "Dule et decorum est pro patria mori" is an outright lie. His stance is that we should quit telling our young to enlist, and that it's not "befitting to die for one's country". This is almost a direct contradiction to Tennyson's attitude.

The content in Charge of the Light Brigade is how a person from the sideline might report hearing of the battle after the troops had returned (if they had returned) to tell of it. It is shown in 3rd person, and reflects a perspective of admiration, perseverance, appreciation and pride. The troops of 600 charge into battle, knowing their fate, but not questioning. "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die". They do it out of obligation, but it's basically a suicide mission. They're only armed with sabres, and the opponents are armed with guns. "Falsh'd all their sabres bare, ...Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wonder'd...". Tennyson concludes Brigade by imploring us to remember our fallen heroes.

Abstraction in Brigade comes in the form of the meter itself. One can't help but to get caught up with the beat of the march and push into the battle on the front line with the soldiers to see what happens next. "Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode the six hundred." It makes the reader feel as if he is mounted on a steed, riding into battle. The reader gets caught up in the galloping heroism attitude Tennyson puts across. Even though the troops fail in the end, the reader is satisfied, and feels a goal has been accomplished and that they didn't die in vain.

In contrast, Easter 1916 speaks of the lives of ordinary people. It shows a glimpse of those left behind-not those on the battlefield. These are people at home, the elderly, the women and children, and those who've returned. What suffering have they endured? At what price has this war cost? Abstract thoughts are included in the stanza describing the cloud, stream and chickens-all of which change frequently, unlike those who've been separated by war, which harden into "hearts of stone".

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