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The Charge of the Light Brigade

This study guide will help you analyze the poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was an English poet from the Victorian era. He was a popular poet during his time and was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. His most famous poems include “In Memoriam”, “The Lady of Shallot”, and “Idylls of the King”. The poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” was published in the newspaper The Examiner and was later revised several times.

Extract

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Personification and Symbol

Throughout the poem, death is personified as in “the valley of Death” (l. 3). Moreover, in the third stanza, the speaker mentions “the jaws of Death” (l. 24). The use of the word “jaws” personifies death and makes it seem as though its presence in the valley is so oppressive it appears almost as a physical entity. In this way, death becomes a character in the speaker’s story. This also highlights the danger of the situation and the bravery of the 600 soldiers who knowingly rode to their deaths.

The “valley of Death” (l. 7) is also a symbol in the story, as the location can be representative of all battlefields in war. In this way, “the valley of Death” highlights the destruction, tragedy, and human loss that is present in all wars, and links to the main themes of the poem: war and death.

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The Charge of the Light Brigade

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