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The Charge of the Light Brigade

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Synopsis
The poem is a war poem about 600 soldiers of the Light Brigade who were ordered to charge
into a valley where the enemies were waiting. There were guns or cannons to the right, left and
front of them. As the soldiers rode into the valley they were attacked on all sides. Still they rode
on and attacked the soldiers they saw. On their retreat they were attacked just as badly on all
sides. Many of these soldiers died. It was in the line of duty and no one protested when the order
was given for them to ride into the valley of death.
Literal Meaning
Stanza 1
600 soldiers of the Light Brigade rode for a distance of half of a league(about two and
a half kilometers) into the Valley of Death on the orders of their commander. He had
ordered them to charge forward and attack the enemy soldiers who were in the valley.
Stanza 2
The order Forward, the Light Brigade was given. Yet no one protested or questioned
the orders although they knew it was a blunder. As soldiers, their duty was to follow
orders, whatever they were
Stanza 3
The enemies fired the guns or cannons from all sides, left, right and front of them.
Although they were so badly attacked, the 600 soldiers rode on boldly and properly
into the war area.
Figurative Meaning
Stanza 1
In our daily life, in school or in the workplace, we may be asked to carry out certain
projects. These projects may be under a team leader. When we are given instructions to
do certain things, we normally as team members will do as instructed. The norm is to
follow the leader and so without knowing better about it, we tend to follow the given
instructions.
Stanza 2
When given instructions to do something, we do not feel afraid to carry them out. We
have faith in the leader and even though we know there are mistakes, we do not
question. This could be because we expect our leader to know better or that person
might have more experience than us. Therefore, our duty is to follow and not to reason
out whys and wherefores.
Stanza 3

While doing the project as directed, we may be questioned by the authorities and
threatened with letters of complaints and expulsion. Yet we carry on proudly and
confidently with faith in the leader.
Themes
Walfare and conflict
Carrying out given duty
Courage in the face of danger
Courage and destruction
Moral Values
We must struggle for peace rather than warfare.
When given duty, we try out best to carry it out.
When we know that some instructions or orders could lead to danger, we must be
prepared to voice our feelings.
We should be brave in the face of danger.
Literary Devices
1. Symbol valley of death symbolises the loss of life as the soldiers rode on into the valley
2. Contrast Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die shows a comparison of not mere
duty but blind duty.
3. Imagery stanza three gives a clear image of the horrors of warfare as the soldiers were shot
at freely and without mercy as they went into the valley.
4. Rhetoric Question Was there a man dismayed?
5.Diction Half a league, Theirs not to make reply
Figurative Devices
1. Similes The valley of Death is compared to the mouth of Hell.
2. Metaphor Forward, the Light Brigade! the soldiers were ordered to ride into the valley to
attack the enemies but they ended up being attacked and fell like 10 pins.
3. Personification jaws of death death is personified as having jaws or a mouth to eat the
soldiers as they rode into the valley.

Exercise 1
Read the poem and answer the questions that follow.
1. Who wrote the poem?
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2.What is the poem mainly about?
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3. Describe the Light Brigade:
i) How many soldiers were involved?
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ii) What were they told to do?
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iii) How far did the soldiers have to ride?
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4. Describe the soldiers:
i) What did the soldiers knew when they did as ordered?
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ii) How did they feel?
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iii) Why did they not question the orders?
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iv) What do you think is the motto of the Light Brigade?
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5. What surrounded the soldiers as they rode into the valley?
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6.How were the soldiers attacked as they rodeinto the valley?


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Exercise 2

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