Mental Cases Analysis

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How does Mental Cases Provide Insights into War? Wilfred Owen’s poetry explores the barbaric and inhumane nature of war. In Mental Cases Owen juxtaposes the emotional and physical state of these soldiers with the image of inhumane creatures. Owen's uses imagery, personification and juxtaposition to express the horrors that these soldiers continue to endure after the war. Mental Cases illustrate the disconnection many soldiers face in society. The rhetorical question opening the first stanza “who are these?” labels these soldiers as unearthly all the while dehumanising them by accumulating their animalistic features. Descriptions like “drooping tongues” and “baring teeth” emphasises the plight of soldiers who have experienced trauma and are unable to overcome their shock. Owen’s use of inclusive language in “surely we have perished” creates a distance between these men and the rest of society as Owen refers to them as “hellish”. Depictions of warfare and accumulated images of death in the second stanza answer the rhetorical questions in the first stanza about the origin of these creatures. “Death” has been personified to emphasise that the memories of the surviving soldiers are tainted with “sloughs of flesh” of past soldiers whose “multitudinous murders they once witnessed.” The juxtaposition of “treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter” highlight that these ‘mental cases’ were once people who had human value too. The transformation of these soldiers has been due to the effects of war as Owen continues to accumulate images of death in the battlefield through onomatopoeia of “batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles.” The third stanza underlines the significance of shock and trauma in the battlefield for soldiers as they cannot face the reality of countless casualties. The alliteration of “sunlight seems a blood-smear” conveys the image of
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