Whereas, throughout ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, Owen mainly describes the condition the soldiers were facing (with the help of metaphors), “cursed through sludge” and their appearance, “He plunged at me, choking, drowning”. He uses “sludge” to portray the battleground as it was filled with gooey mud that the soldiers found very hard to move in and so had to put a lot of effort in which it stimulated them to resent suggesting by the word “curse” in the line “cursed through sludge”.
Hence, he gives an impression of the war as vile, malignant and an appalling situation to be in; “haunting flares”, “blood-shod”, “white eyes writhing” and “incurable sores”. Moreover, he contrasts Tennyson’s noble soldiers, he purposely does not mention any valiant characteristics of the brave men in battle; “Incurable sores on innocent tongues.” Instead, he compares them to “beggars” from the phrase (simile) “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” to describe the horrible position they had to adopt, a very destitute one.
Not only that, he calls them “old beggars”, which I believe to make us sympathise the unfortunate soldiers as people immediately and are more inclined to feel sorry for the old ones. It also contrasts the young strong fighters. I believe he views us the soldier’s uniform as “sacks” which is a definite contrast between Tennyson’s glamorised weapons. He further writes, “coughing” in the phrase “coughing like hags” to show the soldiers’ poor physical condition. He calls them “hags” judging from their pitiable state. Hag is an old woman that is considered very revolting and dreadful but soldiers were meant to be fit and so he contrasts between the two.
Both poets include the word “Plunge” but for different effects. Tennyson uses it to create a swift and ambitious movement made by the soldiers; “Plunged in the battery-smoke”, whilst Owen uses it to produce a horrible depressed nightmare of his associate in agony, shortage of air; “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” We can also deduce from this that he seems to be in reality suffering from nightmares and therefore wants to anxiously share his misery.
Tennyson uses the repetition method several times, to show great power and force of the cavalry, and to exhibit the soldier’s commitment. In the preface of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, he repeats “half a League” three times to ensure that we acknowledge the elongated distance the bold soldiers voyaged despite their difficult task and frightened feeling. Additionally, I believe it is repeated to represent a cyclic movement of the horses dashing. The line, “Rode the six hundred” is repeated in the first three stanzas as a notice, in spite of the soldiers knowing their imminent death; they continued their courageous approach.
He uses a powerful prominent verb “Rode” to illustrate such movement. He also uses words like “charged” and “stormed,” to support this. Six hundred represents the number of soldiers. This was extremely small compared to the amount of their enemies but still the audacious men carried on ahead. This alone proves their patriotism. The three opening lines of the third stanza; “Canon to right of them, Canon to left of them, Cannon in front of them,” occurs two times (in the fifth stanza the Cannon in front of them changes to Cannon behind them). It accentuates the type of danger awaiting them. They are doomed by the vicious cannons and without an exit route but still they carry on. The third and the fifth verse is merely the same as one another except the first one is pertaining to the Light Brigade going to battle and the fifth one concerns them retreating from a defeat.
Likewise, Owen uses repetition too but not as much as Tennyson does. In fact, he uses it only twice, to illustrate how frightened and desperate for protection they were, in the verge of dying from a poisonous gas, “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!” It is also a direct speech, which he uses to communicate with us. He uses an exclamation mark on the word gas so as to call desperate attention (to the reader and) to his fellow soldiers for it meant a death penalty to those who were not able to distinguish the gas.
This also shows the fond between soldiers even though they were extremely tired and had probably only met each other for the first time; a word of caution was still notified. This creates a very sympathetic atmosphere to the readers. I also think that the fond between the soldiers are a contrast to Tennyson’s soldiers seeing that out of the 600 some still survived. I believe if the fond between the 600 was to that of the depicted soldiers in Owen’s than all would have died, as they would want to help their dying associates. The other repetition is the “face” in the lines “writhing in his face” and “His hanging face”. It signifies that Owen was most certainly traumatized by this part of the gas victim.
Both poets use metaphors to emphasize and overstress their intentions. Tennyson uses metaphors as well as a biblical references such as “Into the valley of Death,” which recurs several times (to remind the reader of the dangers) and “Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell”. A valley once very peaceful becomes a valley that is filled with death. The soldiers were aware that they would eventually meet their death once they entered the enemy’s territory. Tennyson personifies “Death” and “Hell” to give a vivid portrait.
Owen uses metaphors such as “Men marched asleep”, “Drunk with fatigue,” to express the soldier’s pitiable condition. They had to sacrifice their sleep to be alert in the war, thus they desperately strived to get as much sleep as possible when they had the chance and that I assume was when they were marching. I believe the men marching asleep and without formation is a contrast to the marches that are done in a much-formatted way today. He regards fatigue as the effect caused when you are drunk by alcohol in this case. Another metaphor “deaf even to the hoots” accentuates the soldier’s inability to hear presumably because of the loud gunshots and bombs. He states that even the largest possible noise was not audible to them. This creates a horrifying image of the soldiers at war, thus discourages glory of war.
Owen uses a simile as well as a biblical reference “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” to convey a fellow soldier’s miserable look since he was unfortunate in getting his mask on in time and hence he died. I believe, he writes that his face was so lynching that it represented the symptoms of an illness consisting of sins derived from the devil (who is the source of sin). He uses devil to express it given that we all identify him to be very dreadful and appalling, thus helps us to visualise the awful image of the soldier. Another example of similes Owen uses are “Obscene as cancer” and “bitter as the cud”. Both of them are used to clarify the blood that gargled out of the gas victim. He compares the disgust to cancer to facilitate his intention. Cud is the remaining bit of food that is to be chewed again by a cow and so he employs this to regard that the sufferer went through the same process. All of these are direct contrasts to Tennyson’s glorified poem.