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Identify and Explain the Key Themes in the Poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

In this worksheet, students will identify the key themes in the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson and understand their significance.

'Identify and Explain the Key Themes in the Poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' ' 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

 

 

The poem tells the story of a brigade 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.

The 600 soldiers were assaulted by the shots of shells of canons in front and on both sides of them. Still, they rode courageously forward toward their own deaths: “Into the jaws of Death / Into the mouth of hell / Rode the six hundred.”

 

The main themes of the poem include Conflict, Courage, Death and Duty.

 

In the following questions, you will be asked about the meaning of these key themes.

 

battle

 

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

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

A key theme of the poem is conflict.

 

Conflict = fighting between two or more groups of people or countries.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Which one do you think supports the theme of conflict?

 

"Was there a man dismayed?"

"Flashed all their sabres bare"

"All the world wondered"

"Noble six hundred!"

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade':

 

"Volleyed and thundered"

 

battle

 

Which theme do you think this quotation supports?

 

Duty

Death

Conflict

The poem also creates a theme of courage.

 

Courage =  the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation and to be brave and confident enough to do what you believe in.

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Underline one word which describes the courage of the soldiers.

\"Boldly they rode and well\"

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade':

 

"Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred."

 

Soldier leading an army

 

Which theme do you think this quotation supports?

 

Conflict

Courage

Respect

Another key theme of the poem is death.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Choose two which support the theme of death.

 

 

"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:

 

"Then they rode back, but not the six hundred"

 

Which theme does this quotation support?

Courage

Death

Duty

Another theme of the poem is honour.

 

Honour = high respect, great esteem.

 

The poet asks:

 

"When can their glory fade?" 

 

 

war memorial

 

What impression does this create of the "six hundred"?

The poet is worried that the men will not be remembered

The poet wants people to learn a lesson from the disaster

The poet suggests that the bravery of the men will never be forgotten

Read the following quotation from The Charge of the Light Brigade:

 

"Honour the Light Brigade"

 

 

 

Which theme does this quotation support?

 

Death

Honour

Conflict

  • Question 1

battle

 

In order to identify the key themes 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
A deadly battle is described. Soldiers on horseback advance into a valley that is surrounded by the enemy, who have guns and cannons. The advancing soldiers are not as well equipped and many are killed.
  • Question 3

A key theme of the poem is conflict.

 

Conflict = fighting between two or more groups of people or countries.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Which one do you think supports the theme of conflict?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Flashed all their sabres bare"
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? The quotation "Flashed all their sabres bare" supports the theme of conflict, as it describes the actual fighting between the two sides. A sabre is a sword and the flash is the sun shining off the metal, but also a metaphor for the glory they showed in their bravery which, like a flash, is short.
  • Question 4

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade':

 

"Volleyed and thundered"

 

battle

 

Which theme do you think this quotation supports?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Conflict
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Volleyed and thundered" relates to the theme of conflict, as it again describes the fighting in the battle. The violent verbs used here create an impression of the power. Ultimately, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is a poem about conflict. It spends a lot of time describing the confusion, the terror, the bloodshed, and, yes, also the heroism and excitement of armed combat. Notice that most of the images and descriptions in the poem relate to warfare: cannon, bullets, smoke, sabres, etc.
  • Question 5

The poem also creates a theme of courage.

 

Courage =  the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation and to be brave and confident enough to do what you believe in.

 

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Underline one word which describes the courage of the soldiers.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Boldly they rode and well"
EDDIE SAYS
The word "boldly" is used to describe the manner in which the soldiers went into battle - it means to move in a confident and courageous way. Even though the soldiers knew that they were facing a stronger army, they still entered the battle with bravery and determination.
  • Question 6

Read the following quotation from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade':

 

"Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred."

 

Soldier leading an army

 

Which theme do you think this quotation supports?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Courage
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? The quotation "Into the mouth of hell rode the six hundred" supports the theme of courage, as it describes how the soldiers went into battle without hesitation, even though they could see that they were riding into "hell". There's no question that the Light Brigade has guts! 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.
  • Question 7

Another key theme of the poem is death.

 

The following quotations are all from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Choose two which support the theme of death.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Into the jaws of Death"
"Into the mouth of hell"
EDDIE SAYS
These quotations support the theme of death and describe the horror of what the soldiers went through. The battle is described as "death" and "hell" before the soldiers have even arrived there. The tragedy here is that many of the brave soldiers in the Light Brigade die in this battle. The valley where the charge takes place belongs to "Death", who is almost a physical presence, like the Grim Reaper.
  • Question 8

Read the following quotation:

 

"Then they rode back, but not the six hundred"

 

Which theme does this quotation support?

CORRECT ANSWER
Death
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation supports the theme of death, as it lets the reader know that many of the 600 soldiers did not survive the war. Tennyson doesn't say how many, and he doesn't go into gory details, but the impression is that many soldiers needlessly lost their lives in a battle which they should never have been sent into. Sad, isn't it?
  • Question 9

Another theme of the poem is honour.

 

Honour = high respect, great esteem.

 

The poet asks:

 

"When can their glory fade?" 

 

 

war memorial

 

What impression does this create of the "six hundred"?

CORRECT ANSWER
The poet suggests that the bravery of the men will never be forgotten
EDDIE SAYS
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.
  • Question 10

Read the following quotation from The Charge of the Light Brigade:

 

"Honour the Light Brigade"

 

 

 

Which theme does this quotation support?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Honour
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Honour the Light Brigade" supports the theme of honour and is a command from the poet to give respect to the soldiers who have died. Tennyson wants the memory of the anonymous men of the Light Brigade to live forever. You know what? It worked. We guarantee that you would never have heard about the Light Brigade in the Crimean War if it weren't for this poem, and now you're part of the tradition of remembering these men. That's the end of this activity - well done! Why not have a go at another activity?
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