Bayonet Charge flashcards


GCSE English (Bayonet Charge) Flashcards on Bayonet Charge flashcards, created by katiehumphrey on 17/01/2014.
Flashcards by katiehumphrey, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by katiehumphrey almost 10 years ago

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Question Answer
subject Bayonet Charge is perhaps unusual for a Ted Hughes poem in that it focuses on a nameless soldier in the First World War (1914-18). It describes the experience of 'going over-the-top'. This was when soldiers hiding in trenches were ordered to 'fix bayonets' (attach the long knives to the end of their rifles) and climb out of the trenches to charge an enemy position twenty or thirty metres away. The aim was to capture the enemy trench. The poem describes how this process transforms a solider from a living thinking person into a dangerous weapon of war.
form and structure The poem is written in three stanzas. All three are filled with words and images, which could suggest the thick mud appropriate for a poem whose main theme is about a man running across a muddy field carrying a heavy gun. The length of the lines varies a lot. Hughes uses long and short lines to suggest the quick and slow progress of the soldier. The first stanza is all about action and running. The soldier is awake and running within six words of the opening line. The flow, however, is broken by the use of dashes "–" (three in the first stanza, one at the beginning of the second). This breaks up the flow of the poem and shows how the soldier is waking up to what is happening and slowly starting to think. The second stanza therefore happens in a kind of slow-motion (note the three lines that are broken in the middle by punctuation – lines 11, 14 and 15). The second half of line 15 breaks this spell and he knows he has to rush, without thinking, towards his death in the final stanza.
sound Hughes uses a dense repetition of words and sounds right from the beginning. For example, in stanza one he uses the repeated 'h' sound that expresses the soldier's heavy breathing.
imagery The rich descriptions contrast with where the solider is heading - a simple, almost childish description – line 3. Another form of contrast is between the imagery of war and the imagery of nature. Throughout the poem we have a background of farming and the natural world: line 3 and 16. The hare, however, becomes an image of death. Similes like those found in line 8 and bring a sense of hell to the battlefield.
themes and ideas This poem tries to step inside the body and mind of a soldier carrying out one of the most terrifying acts of this or any war: charging straight into rifle fire with the aim of killing enemy soldiers face-to-face. In doing so, Hughes dramatises the struggle between a man's thoughts and actions. At the start of the poem the solider is instinctively obeying orders. In stanza two he has moments of clarity when he thinks about what he is doing and time seems to stop still. In the end, all high moral justifications such as king and country, have become meaningless. He himself becomes a form of human bomb, not a person but a weapon of war
comparison to 'Futility' Futility – this is another poem about the First World War trenches. It also deals with the horror of war, but from a different point of view. Owen considers the futility of war in a moment of peace. Hughes places his poem in the heat of the action. Futility is about mourning. Bayonet Charge is about dying. Both poems, however, use a contrast between war and nature to express their feelings.
comparison to 'Belfast Confetti' Belfast Confetti – this poem also tries to express the actual experience of conflict. It uses a range of language techniques to present feelings of fear and confusion. It also uses form and structure to convey the energy and noise of conflict. Being poets, both Carson and Hughes also show how language and thought become impossible when challenged by action and violence.
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