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Themes

There's no question that the Light Brigade has guts.  Every last one of them (according to Tennyson) charges forward to the enemy line and does his job.  Tennyson makes sure to point out that they know exactly how dangerous and hopeless the job is, but they stand up and do it anyway.  "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is about war, but we think its message is about the heroism of ordinary, nameless soldiers.

Questions About Courage

  1. What's the difference between bravery and stupidity?  Is it brave to ride into certain death?
  2. Is it braver to die obeying a foolish order or to refuse to obey it?
  3. Can you imagine yourself showing the kind of courage these men did?
  4. Can you think of a recent example of bravery that is especially moving to you?  How does it compare to the bravery of the Light Brigade?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The fact that the soldiers have to die without questioning or even thinking about the order is both touching and tragic.  The poem's subtle phrasing helps us to see how they are both heroic and, in a way, enslaved to the will of their commanders.

The heroism of the Light Brigade is the central fact of the poem, and Tennyson pushes aside all other questions and issues in his effort to paint a picture of their bravery.

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