Charge of the light brigade

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  • 1. The Charge of the Light Brigade
    Alfred Tennyson
  • 2. The Charge of the Light Brigade was a disastrous charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War.
  • 3. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s was Poet Laureate at the time. His lines have made the charge a symbol of warfare at both its most courageous and its most tragic.
  • 4. Lord Cardigan led the charge from the front and, never looking back, did not see what was happening to the troops behind him.
    He reached the Russian guns, took part in the fight and then returned alone up the valley without bothering to rally or even find out what had happened to the survivors.
    600 horsemen followed orders to attack the Russians.
    Two thirds of them were killed or injured.
    The Russians were so surprised by the rashness, they thought the British were drunk!
    Cardigan left the field and went on board his yacht in Balaclava harbour, where he ate a champagne dinner!
  • 5. News of the Charge reached England three weeks later.
    War correspondent William Russell, who witnessed the battle, declared "our Light Brigade was annihilated by their own rashness, and by the brutality of a ferocious enemy
  • 6. Link to You Tube 6min video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj5bilCQEDU
  • 7. Tennyson's poem, published on 9 December 1854 in The Examiner, praises the Brigade, "When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made!", while trenchantly mourning the appalling futility of the charge: "Not tho' the soldier knew, someone had blunder'd… Charging an army, while all the world wonder'd.”
    Tennyson wrote the poem inside only a few minutes after reading an account of the battle in The Times, according to his grandson Sir Charles Tennyson.
    It immediately became hugely popular, even reaching the troops in the Crimea, where it was distributed in pamphlet form.
    Forty years later Kipling wrote The Last of the Light Brigade, commemorating the visit of the last twenty survivors to Tennyson (then in his eightieth year) gently to reproach him for not writing a sequel about the way in which England was treating its old soldiers
  • 8. I
    Half a league, half a league,
 Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
  • 9. II
    Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Nottho' the soldier knew
 Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
  • 10. III
    Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
 Rode the six hundred.
  • 11. IV
    Flash'dall their sabresbare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
 All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
 Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
 Not the six hundred.
  • 12. V
    Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
 Left of six hundred.
  • 13. VI
    When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
 All the world wondered.
Honourthe charge they made,
Honourthe Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred.
  • 14. Thundering rhythm throughout the poem, echoes horses’ hooves.
    3 miles is a league, so half a league would not be very far on a galloping horse.
    I
    Half a league, half a league,
 Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
    “Valley of Death” refers to an episode of John Bunyon’sPilgrim’s Progress and to Psalm 23 from the New Testament of the Bible: in both of these sources, faith makes people brave when they are faced with death.
    Charging into guns, obviously very dangerous, they knew they were heading into danger
    Doesn’t say who ‘he’ is, or why. Highlights the blind obedience soldiers follow in war. In reality it was a command that was misunderstood.
    Valley of Death, repeated. The audience of the time would all have known the outcome of the battle, that only around 100 escaped unscathed.
  • 15. Repetition of shouted order, the men are not afraid though, accentuates their bravery.
    However, all the soldiers knew that a mistake had been made, but they still followed orders. Incredible for a civilian to understand this loyalty.
    II
    Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Nottho' the soldier knew
 Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.’
    Regimented style reflects the soldiers devotion to duty & militarism. They realise they are heading towards death but continue to follow orders. We are privy to their thoughts.
    Perspective shifts once more & we see the wider picture, more repetition of Valley of Death.
  • 16. Repeated 3 times, speech writers always repeat 3 times, far more effective. Gives an idea of the layout of the battlefield, soldiers are surrounded.
    III
    Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
 Rode the six hundred.
    Barrage is like a force of nature, so massive, nothing men can do anything about.
    Nobility of soldiers, they continue to ride ‘well’ even as its towards their deaths.
    Extended metaphor of Valley of Death. They death is not glorious, but hell, vicious war claiming its victims.
  • 17. Initially they are successful & the Russians retreat under the Cavalry’s attack with swords rather than guns.
    IV
    Flash'dall their sabresbare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
 All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
 Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
 Not the six hundred.
    What is the world wondering? How they can be so brave in the face of such a mighty force? That perhaps they may win the battle?
    Repetition of ‘not’. Their bravery is resolute, they will not retreat. Bold & brave & determined.
  • 18. Now the cannons are behind them, the slight victory hasn’t improved their situation, the stormof war is not relenting
    Anthropologists have observed that going into hell & then returning is a common motif in the mythology of many of the world’s cultures, including one of the best-known myths of Western civilization, the laboursof Hercules. The survivors of this battle are thus raised to heroic status by the words that this poem uses to describe the valley’s entrance.
    V
    Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
 Left of six hundred.
  • 19. We are addressed directly & asked to answer a question. But its beyond our comprehension.
    Repetition again, we wonder how they can have obeyed obviously flawed orders.
    VI
    When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
 All the world wondered.
Honourthe charge they made,
Honourthe Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred.
    We are told how to feel about them, remember context, Poet laureate, patriotic, writing for mass audience, many of whom would have been uneducated.
    Celebrate their honour. A tribute to their bravery
    Little outright criticism of leaders, upholding establishment & call to glory of soldiers & of doing ones’ duty’ without question.