Conscientious Objector by Tareen Choudhury

549 Words3 Pages
Explore how the writer presents her ideas about death in conscientious objector. Conscientious Objector is written by Edna St. Vincent Millay. It expresses her strong views on pacifism. The poem is written from the viewpoint of a conscientious objector and uses personification as one of its key poetic devices. The title of the poem gives us a clear indication of the theme. The Conscientious Objector is a person who refuses to be a part of the armed forces for moral and ethical reasons. In the poem war itself is being considered as immoral. The poem begins with the recognition that death is inevitable. The Title of the poem gives us a clear indication of the theme. In choosing this name for her poem, Millay makes it clear that she does not support war and the death that surrounds it. Although she knows that death is inevitable she refuses to aid death in its design. Death is personified immediately; we get the image of death as a grim reaper on a horse. Millay uses personification to describe death. It is the key poetic device. Death is personified in the first line by turning it into a proper noun with the capitalization of the letter ‘D’. In stanza one, readers notice the clash between the narrator and Death is clear. He states “I shall do for Death”. Death is personified as a real figure. For Millay, war is against death; a bully interested in money busy and rapacious. By personifying death, Millay can show that war is about money and abuse of power. In stanza two, Death is personified as a horseman and war listed as his ‘business’. In addition, Millay also uses an onomatopoeia to present the theme of death. He states, “Clatter on the barn-floor” suggesting that this is real and they can hear the reality of this description. Readers are presented with the image of a hunt; again this reinforces the idea of war as a meaningless cruel game of death.
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