Summary and Analysis of The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson: 2022

About the Poet:

Lord Alfred Tennyson (August 1809- October 1892) was a Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during the reign of Queen Victoria. While he still remains one of Britain’s most popular poets till date, some of his short-lyrical works include “Break, Break, Break”, “Tears, Idle Tears” and “Crossing the Bar”. His work has become a strong pillar to the foundation of modern English Literature and continues to inspire poets till today.

Introduction to The Charge of the Light Brigade:

This poem by A. L. Tennyson narrates real life events that revolve around 600 soldiers of a brigade that dive into the Valley of Death for battle. None of the soldiers have any fear in his heart whatsoever as they each believe in following orders without any questions asked. Despite having lost their strength of 600, the soldiers managed to defeat their opponents and move forward through the cannons that are fired all around them. This poem is a tribute to the bravery of this brigade whose patriotism and courage should be acknowledged even today.

Setting of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

The poem is a true story that is set around the initial phase of Crimean War fought between Turkey and Russia (1854-56). Under Lord Raglan’s command, the British forces entered the war in September 1854 to avoid the Russians from gaining control of trade over the sea routes.

Poetic Devices in The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Line 1: “Half a league, half a league”
Line 15: “Theirs but to do and die.”
Line 23: “Stormed with shot and well”
Line 32: “All the world wondered.”
Line 36: “Reeled from the sabre stroke”
Line 37: “Shattered and surrendered.”
Line 44: “Stormed at with shot and shell”
Line 45: “While horse and hero fell.”
Personification/ Metaphor:
Line 3: “valley of Death”
Line 25: “Into the jaws of Death”
Line 26: “Into the mouth of hell”
The light brigade mentioned in the poem is a symbol of the British history and heritage that the soldiers have a duty to uphold by winning the battle in the Valley of Death that their brigade is at.

Style of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

The rhyme scheme of this poem seems to vary in each stanza. Tennyson uses the same rhyme or even the same last word for the consecutive lines that follow.

Summary of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Tennyson who was one of the greatest poets of his time, narrated the incidents that followed on the 25th of September in the year 1854, when the British army fought against the Russian troops. Through the flying cannons that fall upon them from all directions, the brave soldiers fight on. Although at first, they move towards the wrong direction and hence lose a large number of soldiers, they still keep moving forward. Most of the lines in the poem are the narration of the commander of the brigade who orders the brave soldiers to march on and open fire. This poem is the journey of these soldiers from their entering the battlefield till the victory of their brigade at the expense of the death of several soldiers.

Critical Analysis of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

The poem written by A. L. Tennyson is an ode to the brave hearts of the British soldiers that fought against all odds and gained victory over the Russian troops. This poem acts as a reminder by A. L. Tennyson to the British citizens about how they conquered a lost battle through all odds. It acts as a poster for the British countrymen of today stating that if you never lose hope just like the soldiers of this battle, and one shall always overcome their goal no matter the size. This entire poem is a beacon of hope for not only the British but for every individual to keep faith in their struggle and then expect to return victorious.

Central Idea of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

The poem is about the battle of Lord Raglan’s Light Cavalry Brigade against the Russians. On being given the orders, the soldiers march forward but in the wrong direction, only to lose their strength. But they fight against all odds and soon gain victory over the Russians. The central idea of this poem is one of hope and patriotism. The soldiers despite having made the grave mistake of moving forward into the wrong direction, keep fighting even when they could have fled for their lives. But they kept fighting with the pride of their mother land in their hearts and soon gained control over the opponents. This is the sign of hope and strength that A. L. Tennyson portrayed when he wrote this poem for the people of his country.

Tone of The Charge of the Light Brigade:

The poem is set around the battle that Lord Raglan’s Light Cavalry Brigade has against the Russians. In the beginning of the poem, the brigade is asked to move forward but everybody senses that they have made a mistake. This is noticed when shells of canons are shot all around them. But the brave soldiers carry forward their duty of fighting their opponents and believe that there is nothing else to do but to fight. The soldiers later realize that they have marched forward but in the wrong direction, only to lose their strength of 600. But yet like dutiful sons, they fight for the sake of their mother land and despite their lost comrades, soon return home in victory.


Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is a beacon of hope and sends the message that struggle will always follow with victory. It is an example of how success will be achieved: through hard work and true grit. When the brigade is asked to move forward, everybody senses that they have gone ahead into the wrong direction, but they still march forward like there is no tomorrow and soon return home victorious. It is a poem that sends such a powerful message to be backed up with the reality of it being a true story, thus giving the reader courage and knowledge together. It can be understood why A. L. Tennyson is still considered noble for his contribution in making British history.
Contributor: Deeksha Honawar

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