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Understand and Analyse the Language Techniques Used in the Poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

In this worksheet, students will analyse the language devices used in the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson. They will also gain an understanding of the wider context of the poem.

'Understand and Analyse the Language Techniques Used in the Poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', Conflict: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your Anthology.

 

 

battle

 

 

Tennyson wrote 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' after reading a newspaper report about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.  

 

On the 25th October 1854, 670 cavalrymen and officers were given a badly judged order to attack Russian troops who were armed with cannons. Tennyson relates how the cavalry (the ‘Light Brigade’) attacked, showing heroic bravery and discipline, despite the other side surrounding them with cannons.  They failed to defeat the gunners and were forced to retreat, losing more than two hundred men killed outright, wounded or captured

 

In the following questions, you will be asked to analyse the language devices used in the poem.

battle

 

 

In order to identify the language devices in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below:

Column A

Column B

Where is the poem set?
There was a miscommunication in the order they wer...
What is a 'Light Brigade'?
For following orders, even though they knew they m...
Why did the men charge head first in to the cannon...
Men on horses who were lightly equipped
Why was the 'Light Brigade' so respected afterward...
In Russia, during the Crimean War

battle

 

Now that you have read the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', choose the summary which you think best explains the poem.

 

The narrator is a soldier rallying the troops as they charge into battle. Despite the odds stacked against them, he convinces the brigade to charge forward

Soldiers charge through a deadly valley and are attacked by the enemy. Although they are attacked from all sides, they are protected. It is implied that God is on their side

A deadly battle is described. Soldiers on horseback advance into a valley that is surrounded by the enemy who have guns and cannons. The soldiers are not as well prepared and many are killed

Let's recap your knowledge of language devices, so that we know what to look for in the poem.

 

Match the language device to the definition.

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Two words placed together with different meanings ...
Simile
Words beginning with the same letter sounds
Onomatopoeia
Comparing two or more objects with the words 'like...
Metaphor
Describing an inanimate object or animal with huma...
Personification
Words which sound like the effect they describe
Oxymoron
Direct comparison of two things without using the ...

 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' uses an allusion to the bible, to describe the horror of the battle.

 

Allusion = an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.

 

Which of the following quotations is an example of an allusion

 

"Was there a man dismayed?"

"Boldly they rode and well"

"All in the valley of Death"

The poet uses repetition to create the idea that the soldiers did not question the people in charge.

 

Read the following extract from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Underline three words which are repeated.

Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.

The poet uses sibilance to describe what happened to the soldiers:

 

Sibilance = a more specific type of alliteration that relies on the repetition of soft consonant sounds in words to create a wooshing or hissing sound in the writing

 

Underline three words which you think create the sibilance mentioned above.

 

\"Stormed at with shot and shell\"

The poet uses personification to describe how the soldiers bravely went into a battle they couldn't win.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Choose two which you think are an example of personification.

 

 

 

"Half a league onward"

"Into the jaws of Death"

"Was there a man dismayed?"

"Into the mouth of hell"

"Honour the charge they made!"

Read the following quotation:

 

"Charging an army, while
All the world wondered"

 

soldier leading an army

 

What language device is used in this quotation?

 

Alliteration

Exaggeration

Simile

The poet asks:

 

"When can their glory fade?" 

 

war memorial

 

What language device is this an example of?

 

Alliteration

Simile

Rhetorical question

The last sentence of 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' starts with an imperative:

 

Imperative = used to describe the form of a verb that is usually used for giving orders.

 

Underline the imperative command in the quotation below.

\"Honour the Light Brigade\"
  • Question 1

battle

 

 

In order to identify the language devices in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Read the poem and match the questions to the answers below:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Where is the poem set?
In Russia, during the Crimean War
What is a 'Light Brigade'?
Men on horses who were lightly eq...
Why did the men charge head first...
There was a miscommunication in t...
Why was the 'Light Brigade' so re...
For following orders, even though...
EDDIE SAYS
The poem tells the story of a brigade consisting of 600 soldiers who rode on horseback into the “valley of death” for half a league (about one and a half miles). They were obeying a command to charge the enemy forces that had been seizing their guns.
  • Question 2

battle

 

Now that you have read the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', choose the summary which you think best explains the poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A deadly battle is described. Soldiers on horseback advance into a valley that is surrounded by the enemy who have guns and cannons. The soldiers are not as well prepared and many are killed
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot the right summary? The poem describes a deadly battle with many casualties.
  • Question 3

Let's recap your knowledge of language devices, so that we know what to look for in the poem.

 

Match the language device to the definition.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words beginning with the same let...
Simile
Comparing two or more objects wit...
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things w...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or...
Oxymoron
Two words placed together with di...
EDDIE SAYS
Language devices are a great way for poets to create imagery and tone. They also get you more marks in the exam, if you can identify them! Remember to always look out for language devices and try to use them when you are analysing a quotation.
  • Question 4

 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' uses an allusion to the bible, to describe the horror of the battle.

 

Allusion = an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.

 

Which of the following quotations is an example of an allusion

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"All in the valley of Death"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "All in the valley of Death, rode the six hundred" is an example of allusion, as it refers to a passage from the bible. It suggests that the British soldiers do not stand a chance of winning and they're riding into death. It also creates the impression that the soldiers know this, but carry on anyway, as they are used to following orders.
  • Question 5

The poet uses repetition to create the idea that the soldiers did not question the people in charge.

 

Read the following extract from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Underline three words which are repeated.

CORRECT ANSWER
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
EDDIE SAYS
The repetition of "theirs" and "six hundred" objectifies the soldiers as a symbol, rather than just men. It creates the impression that the soldiers did not have a say and were just needed to do the fighting. The words "reply" and "reason" are two things that you would expect to do when given an order that you think is wrong. But the soldiers do not do this - they do not feel it is their place to question their superiors. Instead they "do and die". Would you have done the same in their position?
  • Question 6

The poet uses sibilance to describe what happened to the soldiers:

 

Sibilance = a more specific type of alliteration that relies on the repetition of soft consonant sounds in words to create a wooshing or hissing sound in the writing

 

Underline three words which you think create the sibilance mentioned above.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Stormed at with shot and shell"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Stormed at with shot and shell" is an example of sibilance, as it uses the soft 's' sound to create an impression of how quickly the charge happened. It also describes what the soldiers were met with when they entered the battle. The other side was an incredible force and "shot and shell" describes the force of the weapons that the other side had, whereas the "Light Brigade" only had swords.
  • Question 7

The poet uses personification to describe how the soldiers bravely went into a battle they couldn't win.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Choose two which you think are an example of personification.

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Into the jaws of Death"
"Into the mouth of hell"
EDDIE SAYS
These quotations are examples of personification, as death is given the human characteristic of a "mouth" and "jaws", to show how the soldiers had no chance of surviving. It also creates an impression of the horror of what the soldiers went through. The battle is described as "death" and "hell" before the soldiers have even arrived there, which suggests that they were riding into a battle that they couldn't win. Pretty scary stuff!
  • Question 8

Read the following quotation:

 

"Charging an army, while
All the world wondered"

 

soldier leading an army

 

What language device is used in this quotation?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Exaggeration
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "All the world wondered" is an example of exaggeration or hyperbole, as the poet is trying to create an impression of the scale of the mistake and how obvious it was (although it wouldn't have been the whole world). It also creates a sense of the disbelief that people felt when they heard what the army had been ordered to do. The poet is making the point that the decision was so badly made, that even the people reading the newspaper report could see that it was the wrong decision to send the men into battle.
  • Question 9

The poet asks:

 

"When can their glory fade?" 

 

war memorial

 

What language device is this an example of?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Rhetorical question
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "When can their glory fade?" is an example of a rhetorical question - a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point, rather than to gain an answer. The poet uses a rhetorical question to suggest that people should not feel sad about the soldiers that died. Instead, they should respect and remember them for their "glory" and bravery, which he believes should never be forgotten. Do you agree with him?
  • Question 10

The last sentence of 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' starts with an imperative:

 

Imperative = used to describe the form of a verb that is usually used for giving orders.

 

Underline the imperative command in the quotation below.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Honour the Light Brigade"
EDDIE SAYS
The word "Honour" is an example of an imperative, as the poet is ordering people to give their respect to the soldiers. Even though the decision was wrong, the soldiers still fought bravely for their country and the poet believes that they should be honoured and remembered for this. Well done, that's another activity completed!
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