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Reality of War in Crane’s War is Kind and Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade

Reality of War in Crane’s War is Kind and Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade

An overwhelming tendency to fight and battle has plagued humankind since the dawn of the written word. Countless wars have been fought since the dawn of man and most times such conflict exists simply for its own sake with no productive end. Immense human suffering and death can be caused by conflicts that hold little logical justification. Since the birth of the written word, criticism and discussion have persistently followed the topic of war. In exposing the grim reality of war, two works of literature stand out as being both vivid and compelling. Through similar uses of graphic imagery and forceful diction, both Stephen Crane in his “Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War is Kind” and Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his “The Charge of the Light Brigade” evoke strong sentiment on the reality of war. “The Charge” offers a slightly more glorified view of war while still portraying its harsh essence.

Stephen Crane in his “Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War is Kind” uses several methods to convey his perception of war; most strikingly, stark imagery. As the poem begins, a woman cries over the death of her lover who, while left to die on the battlefield, “threw wild hands toward the sky” (2). His posture illustrates the physical pain he experienced as well as the longing he felt for his lover and his lost life (Cady 102). He threw his hands toward the sky in a vain effort to reach out to her and the life that had been taken from him. Crane’s next stanza portrays an image of troops marching to their death, men “born to drill and die” (8). Crane endeavors to show the blind trust that soldiers are forced to place in their leaders. The soldiers knew li…

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… popular phenomenon when it forces people to make great sacrifices that lead to no sufficiently important goal.

Works Cited

Cady, Edwin H. Stephen Crane. Twayne Publishers. 1980: 100-160

Foltinek, Herbert. “‘Their’s Not to Reason Why’: Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Human Condition.” A Yearbook of Studies in English Language and Literature 80 1985-1986: 27-38

Knapp, Bettina L. Stephen Crane. New York: Ungar Publishing Company, 1987. 136-140

Lowell, Amy. “Introduction” in The Black Riders and Other Lines. Vol. VI Russel

Aging in Matthew Arnold’s Growning Old and Robert Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra

Aging in Matthew Arnold’s Growning Old and Robert Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra

Contemporaries of the Victorian Age, Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning wrote the poems, “Growning Old” and “Rabbi Ben Ezra,” respectively, to express their views on aging. Arnold suffers tremendously, for he lives in melancholy solitude with his deteriorating body, helpless in his moral and physical pain. Browning, a happier man, finds much joy in his age and comfort in the moral and spiritual strength which God gives him. In effect, while Arnold pessimistically dwells on the physical pain accompanying the aging process and the inevitability of a cruel death, Browning devoutly expresses his optimistic outlook of old age and death as God’s consummate end to the labors of life.

Arnold’s pessimism regarding aging leaves no room for optimism. The reader encounters this negativity right away, for in the first stanza Arnold ascertains, in answer to his question “What is it to grow old?”, that aging involves “[losing] the glory of the form.” The words “lose the glory” implicate a tragic and perhaps humiliating experience. Furthermore, Arnold describes the loss of “the glory of the form” as a time when “beauty [forgoes] her wreath,” a phrase which presents the reader with the image of a queen abandoning her crown, as her time of glory ends forever. Arnold gives the reader another foreboding image of aging in line twenty-four, when he describes himself as being incarcerated by his age with the image of the “hot prison of the present, month to month with weary pain.” The words “hot”, “weary”, “prison”, and “pain” effectively portray Arnold’s suffering and discomfort to the reader, simultaneously lending to his overall pessimistic standpoint. In addition, Arnold experiences an absense of feeling in accordance with his age. In the fourth stanza he declares that old age dies not imply gazing down on the world with “rapt prophetic eyes” and a “heart profoundly stirred/ to weep and feel the fullness of the past.” Furthermore, he writes, “Deep in our hidden heart/ Festers the dull remembrance of a change/ But no emotion–none.” One critic concurs, stating that Arnold’s age induces an “emotional frigidity” (Madden 115). Another critic describes Arnold as having an “incapacity for feeling” (Bush 50). As to the “dull remembrance of a change” Madden adds, “There was always the memory of that ‘different world’ [which Arnold] had once known…” (115). Most probably, the “different world” of which Madden speaks is Arnold’s youth, of which the poet only has a “dull remembrance” left, suggesting that Arnold finds no fulfillment or feeling in the memories of his youth.

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