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Explore How the Key Themes Develop in the Poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

In this worksheet, students will undertake an exploration of how the key themes develop in the poem 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

'Explore How the Key Themes Develop 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

 

 

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 how these themes develop throughout the poem.

battle

 

In order to identify the key themes develop 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?
In Russia, during the Crimean War
What is a 'Light Brigade'?
There was a miscommunication in the order they wer...
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...
For following orders, even though they knew they m...

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.

 

 

 

cannon

 

 

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!"

Let's have a look at how the theme of conflict is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

"Volleyed and thundered"

 

 Choose one explanation from below.

 

The soldiers are attacking the enemy with strength

There is a powerful storm happening

The enemy side have enormous power when attacking the soldiers

The poem also creates a theme of courage and it is clear that the poet wants to show the bravery of the soldiers.

 

"Boldly they rode and well"

 

How does this quotation show the courage of the soldiers? Fill in the blanks.

The soldiers are attacking the enemy with strength

There is a powerful storm happening

The enemy side have enormous power when attacking the soldiers

Let's have a look at how the theme of courage is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

"Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred"

 

 

Soldier leading an army

 

 

Choose one explanation from below.

 

The soldiers went into battle feeling confident

The soldiers went into battle even though they knew it would be horrendous

Some soldiers decided not to go into battle

Throughout the poem, the theme of death is used to show how horrific the battle was.

 

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!"

Let's have a look at how the theme of death is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

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

 

Choose one explanation from below.

 

600 soldiers came back

Many of the soldiers did not survive the battle

The soldiers stuck together for protection

The theme of honour is used to make a point about how these soldiers should be respected and remembered.

 

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

Let's have a look at how the theme of honour develops throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation:

 

"Honour the Light Brigade"

 

 

 

​How does the narrator use the theme of honour to explain how he feels?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain in deeper detail.

  • Question 1

battle

 

In order to identify the key themes develop 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.

 

 

 

cannon

 

 

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
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

Let's have a look at how the theme of conflict is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

"Volleyed and thundered"

 

 Choose one explanation from below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The enemy side have enormous power when attacking the soldiers
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 and it is clear that the poet wants to show the bravery of the soldiers.

 

"Boldly they rode and well"

 

How does this quotation show the courage of the soldiers? Fill in the blanks.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How are you getting on? 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

Let's have a look at how the theme of courage is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

"Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred"

 

 

Soldier leading an army

 

 

Choose one explanation from below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The soldiers went into battle even though they knew it would be horrendous
EDDIE SAYS
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

Throughout the poem, the theme of death is used to show how horrific the battle was.

 

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

Let's have a look at how the theme of death is developed throughout the poem. What does the following quotation explain to the reader?

 

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

 

Choose one explanation from below.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Many of the soldiers did not survive the battle
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.
  • Question 9

The theme of honour is used to make a point about how these soldiers should be respected and remembered.

 

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

Let's have a look at how the theme of honour develops throughout the poem.

 

Read the following quotation:

 

"Honour the Light Brigade"

 

 

 

​How does the narrator use the theme of honour to explain how he feels?

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain in deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: The poem finishes with a reminder of the main point the poet makes. He uses an imperative command to remind the reader that they should "Honour the Light Brigade" which creates a sense of importance and urgency. The word "honour" emphasises how the poet feels about the soldiers and how he believes they are more important than the officer who gave the incorrect command.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that the student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation

Try it ---- OR ----

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