illustration of a soldier in traditional nineteenth century military garb

The Charge of the Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Start Free Trial

Does “The Charge of the Light Brigade” glorify war?

“The Charge of the Light Brigade” does not glorify war but, rather, glorifies the bravery and loyalty of soldiers who fight in the war. Tennyson depicts war as dangerous and destructive and thus does not glorify the activity of war itself.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade ,” Tennyson glorifies the courage, bravery, and patriotism of soldiers who fight in wars. However, his depiction of the dangerous nature of war itself does not directly glorify the activity. For instance, consider the following description of the soldiers in...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Tennyson glorifies the courage, bravery, and patriotism of soldiers who fight in wars. However, his depiction of the dangerous nature of war itself does not directly glorify the activity. For instance, consider the following description of the soldiers in action:

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.

In this excerpt we see Tennyson highlighting the bravery of the soldiers when he describes how they rode “boldly” and “well” into battle. This suggests that they are courageous, unafraid, and ready to do whatever it takes for their country. However, his description of where the soldiers are riding is not a pretty picture. The phrase “in the jaws of Death” underscores how risky war is and how these courageous young men are facing their doom by participating in battle.

Later on, Tennyson uses this dark imagery again when he describes the conclusion of the battle. He writes:

While horse and hero fell.

They that had fought so well

Came through the jaws of Death,

Back from the mouth of hell,

All that was left of them,

Left of six hundred.

This passage leaves the reader with the haunting image of just a few strong men remaining out of what had once been a large, brave group. Here Tennyson honors soldiers' sacrifices and reminds readers that war kills strong, noble people. While he demonstrates utmost respect for the dedication of the soldiers, he still shows war as a brutal, horrible thing.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on