All men the same?

               So do all Victorian ‘men’ meet Kipling’s requirements? We examine soldiers in war, a traditional masculine role, in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson. The soldiers exemplify honor, duty, and a loyalty to their country and superiors as they ride into war. They are obedient and courageous, never doubting, even though they are “the six hundred” “charging an army” (Tennyson 26, 30). There is a sense of impending doom upon the soldiers as they ride “into the valley of death” (Tennyson, 16). The poem gives a sense of doubt as the poem moves onward. “Some one had blundered” sending them to war and “all the world wondered” (Tennyson 12, 31). This doubt backhandedly challenges the honor and praise given to the six hundred because it suggests that someone should have challenged this charge. This is regarded as one of Tennyson's "political poems" and represents his desire for change in the British system (Sypher 102). The poem suggests the need for change to minimize mistakes like the call that led the six hundred to their deaths. The praise and honor given to the soldiers combined with the sense that someone with a higher ranking had blundered suggests that the change needs to be with the higher authorities--someone needs to check their decisions. However, the one who made the call that lead the six hundred facing an army does not fit Kipling's requirements of a 'man'. The man behind that call trusted himself while "all the world wondered", when he should have made "allowance for their doubting" (Tennyson 31) (Kipling 4). Kipling's requirements for a Victorian man are ideal, but they are not realistic. So what are the common characteristics of a Victorian male?    

1 comment:

  1. Ah... masculinity in the face of war. Men seemed more robotic than human -- which is tragic! And all in the name of imperialism. I love that Kipling called into question this idea of loyalty. Was death (in an attempt to maintain a stereotype) worth it?