Do you think "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is giving the reader a positive view of war? Explain.

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I think it's important to make a distinction in the "positive" aspects of war that are conveyed in this poem. While the men show great bravery (and that's certainly positive), the overall effect of war devastates their cavalry in a seemingly impossible mission. The imagery and metaphors are dark as...

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I think it's important to make a distinction in the "positive" aspects of war that are conveyed in this poem. While the men show great bravery (and that's certainly positive), the overall effect of war devastates their cavalry in a seemingly impossible mission. The imagery and metaphors are dark as well, contributing to the negative view of war.

These men are called to do the impossible. From the first stanza, we know that they ride into the "valley of Death," the phrase repeated twice in the first stanza alone. The men are not "dismayed" to do their duty and do not question the orders they are given. They understand that their job is to follow commands—to "do and die." The men are fiercely loyal, but it comes with a great sacrifice.

The imagery of their situation is bleak:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered....

And still, they ride forward. Under fire, the men intently press toward the goal of their mission. The metaphors here are ominous:

Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

The men are successful by some standards; they break through the line, leaving their foes "shattered." Then they turn back, facing those same cannons on every side: to the right, to the left, and behind them. Again they are shot at, and many of these brave men die.

The cavalry returns, but their numbers have been decimated. They are remembered for their bravery, but there is a darkness to this accomplishment. The men were sent right into the "mouth of hell" so that a few men could return.

While the men show great bravery, the message seems to be that war requires great loss. And the necessity of a condition which requires brave men to ride straight into Hell must be viewed as an overall negative situation.

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