The Deconstruction of War

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The Deconstruction of War World War I was known as the Great War and was referred to as “The war to end all wars” by President Woodrow Wilson in his address to Congress asking for a Declaration of War against Germany on April 2, 1917 (Wilson). Unarguably, the perception of war changed profoundly at the conclusion of the astounding combat. People began to deviate from the belief that war was magnificent and heroic to a darker and more melancholy attitude during the second phase of the Great War when the human toll shook up the English gentry. The idea of masculinity in the context of the war eroded, as seen through the First World War soldiers; they started to express fear and anguish instead of bravery and honor. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen were both soldier poets during World War I, and wrote about the horrific events of the Great War. In Sassoon’s poem “They” and Owen’s famous poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”, the respective authors deconstruct and critique the glorification of war by the Catholic Church and society through the use of vivid imagery of battle and its effect on soldiers. Sassoon’s “They” attacks the Catholic Church and its beliefs that war is not only righteous, but endorsed by God. This contrast in beliefs is made very clear by the caesura and the line break between the two speakers: the Bishop and the soldiers. The Bishop is convinced that the soldiers fighting the war are combating evil in the name of God. He says, “'In a just cause:/ they lead the last attack/ 'On Anti-Christ” (Sassoon 3-4: 1182). Clearly, the Bishop thinks that violence is warranted against the “Anti-Christ”. It is interesting to note that it is a bit ironic that a religious man is endorsing violence while, as a Bishop, he most likely preaches to “Love thy neighbor as thou God”. This portrays the Bishop as being ignorant, imprudent, and close-minded which ultimately reflects

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