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Essay on Comparing Bayonet Charge and COTLB


I would be really grateful if someone could read my GCSE English Literature Paper 2 Section B answer and give me a mark out of 30. It would be so great if you could tell what to do better next time as well.

Thank you so much!

Compare the ways poets present the reality of conflict in ‘Bayonet Charge’ and in one other poem from ‘Power and Conflict’. [30 marks]

Bayonet Charge, written by Ted Hughes in the 1950s, and The Charge of the Light Brigade, written by Alfred Lord Tennyson during the Victorian era, convey different ideas about the importance of bravery and duty, and similar ideas about the chaos of war.

In Bayonet Charge, Hughes demonstrates the senselessness of war and patriotism. The first line of the poem ‘Suddenly he awoke and was running’ starts in media res. Immediately, the act of waking up suggests he is exiting a dream and entering reality. In other words, he is symbolically heading away from the illusory idea of war that he once believed in, and into the true terror of armed conflict. The simile ‘dropped like luxuries’ helps compare the patriotic values to something ‘extra,’ revealing how they were indulgences in the first place; they existed to comfort rather than bear reality. Published during the 1950, Hughes writes from the perspective of a soldier fighting in WW1. When listing the values, the narrator gets fed up and ends the list with ‘etcetera,’ which is intentionally flippant and dismissive, showing how it is no longer something that is worthy of holding memory in his brain, highlighting how bravery, duty, and patriotism, are a list of hollow words. In contrast, in The Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson emphasizes the importance of bravery and duty in a war environment. The soldiers ride into the ‘valley of death,’ which alludes to Psalm 23. In the psalm, the speaker expresses religious faith in God even when facing death itself. The valley of death in the psalm is terrifying enough that it threatens the faith of those entering it, reinforcing the bravery of the soldiers, as they maintain this even as they enter a frightening environment. The majority of lines in the poem are end-stopped lines, conveying the determination and unwillingness to entertain doubt. Like the cavalry men themselves, the lines are strong, confident and unequivocal. Alfred Lord Tennyson was a poet laureate from the Victorian era, and was interested in upholding and preserving society rather than searching for ways to criticize it. The poem was written just 6 weeks after the Crimean War, and served the purpose of addressing the questions and up cry that arose in Britain about how the war was being handled. Therefore, it makes sense that Tennyson emphasized the importance of bravery and duty, as he was writing on behalf of the government.

In Bayonet charge, Hughes emphasizes on the chaos that soldiers face when they enter a war zone. The assonance that creates /ee/ and /aw/ sounds in the first four lines leads to a frantic intensity that mimics the soldiers confused running. They also weigh down the poem’s sound, reflecting the soldier’s exhaustion. Furthermore, in the first four lines, the alliteration of /s/,/r/,/h/ convey an overall violent atmosphere. The /s/ suggest a hissing, haunting atmosphere, and the /r/ relates to the frictional pain in his uniform. The /h/ conveys his breathy exhaustion. Their claustrophobic closeness suggest that although the soldier is surrounded by lots of other people, he feels like he is a solitary figure; he feels alone. Similarly, in The Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson also hints at the reality of the chaos of war. Stanza 4, which describes the point when the soldiers reach the battlefield, is full of enjambment. After so many end-stopped lines at the start of the poem, this stanza feels unpredictable. Where the end stops convey confidence and bravery, the enjambment registers fear and confusion that radiates off the charging soldiers. Notably, there’s no particular rhyme scheme; this is intentional, as it captures the chaos of the cavalry charge. Like the charge, the poem is cacophonous and uneven.

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