Thursday, 10 September 2015

SPM English Literature : Poem : The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

As promised, for this entry, I want to write about Themes, Moral Values and also, Language and Style for the poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. 

Themes :

1. Heroism and courage

According to the poem by Tennyson, the soldiers knew that they were up against a better armed enemy (Russians), yet they charged into battle with great courage. Now, this is where everything come across very doubtful in the modern days where we have lots of opinions and ideas. Logically, we were NOT going to charge at any battle, IF we know enemy has better guns and bombs, right? But, that was not modern days, they were not asked to think about them but the country. That was the vow that they took. But, what can do, right? Some were just bluntly followed the ruler WITHOUT analysing anything. Too bad.

2. Patriotism

This poem was written in the heyday of extreme nationalism and patriotism. As mentioned above, people during the war were thinking 'the other way'. Meaning, they were always agreed with their ruler without having 'the other thoughts'. In modern days, people are more questioning and critical in their concept of patriotism. 

3. Duty

From the poem, even though the soldiers knew that 'someone has blundered', still they had a strong sense of duty. It almost like, its their duty to protect the country of their own. They had this thought of they need to protect their families, their friends, their parents and they had to. Why? because they obeyed the order given to them. 

4. The tragedy of war

As we all know, war is not the best thing ever created by Man. We tend to think that by having war, we could solve many problems, but do really think that Iran has Nuclear powerplant? What has happened to those Middle East countries? And yet, those people believe in war? The same concept can be applied in this poem. How many loved ones had been sacrificed just for the sake of war? Yes, Tennyson wrote about the six hundred soldiers who involved in the charge, but with a little bit of common sense, we could just easily think about the counterpart, the Russians. They too must have been suffered from loss, didn't they? Tragedy indeed.

5. Leadership failure

Now, my friend once said, if we want to kill the snake, we need to smack the head first. So, in the failure of the charge by the 600 British soldiers, from what we understood from the poem, that 'someone' needed to be blamed. Why? because he was the caused of the unfortunate ambush. Now, the poem tells us that leadership is a serious responsibility which should be exercised with care and sensitivity. 

Moral Values

1. Patriotism

We nowadays lack of patriotism. Why? I do no know what made the cause of lack of patriotism, but we really need to change the attitude on that. We need to love our country like we love ourselves. The poem tells us that the spirit of self-sacrifice shown by the soldier even though they knew they might not survive the battle. 

2. Duty

We need to be responsible person at all time. Why? because we are our own responsibility. We need to have a sense of duty and obligation in our work. By doing the best at any time, we have a step closer to a better person. As the soldiers in the poem, they had to go the battle because its their duty. That came from the sense of obedience that those soldiers had. 

3. Anti-war Sentiment

This is actually one of the moral values. Anti-war sentiment, have you ever heard of the war in Vietnam? Thailand? Iraq? Syria? Iran? What would be benefits for BOTH parties? Answer? Nothing. It only brought benefits to one party. We as human, who happened to have great minds need to think about our environment. Wars did not just effect the Man but also the nature and wars killed humans. The poem can also be seen as subtle attack on the wastage of lives in war.

Language and Style

When we talk about language and style, we need to refer to the literary items that I believed you have learned from your teachers at school. If you have trouble understanding it, please, refer to your teachers, ask them about the literary items.


The poet makes intensive use of repetition (refrains) to create a hypnotic effect. Examples of such refrains are half a league (repeated thrice) and Rode the six hundred (repeated four times). The refrains also give us the impression of an army marching forward.

Anaphora and Rhyme

Anaphora means 'backward reference'. There was one stand out example is the repeated use of 'Theirs' in the opening lines.

" Theirs not to make reply,
  Theirs not to reason why,
  Theirs but to do and die. "


Now, imagery means giving adjective to the situation. For examples, 

'the mouth of Hell', 'jaws of Death' and also 'the valley of Death'.

With these images, we sense the poet's underlying unease about war even though he glorifies the heroism of the soldiers. The equation of war with the 'jaws of Death' suggests that war is a predator that feeds on human lives.

So, that is all on the explanation on the selected sub topics.

I really hope that you could understand a few points I have written. If you were to have any question, do not hesitate to email me at

Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Know the concept then apply it with your own sense but do not astray from the original topic. *that's my advise.

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