Wilfred Owen Essay

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If you were living over 90 years ago there was a chance that you, a brother, father or friend would have been fighting in WW1. While Wilfred Owen was a British soldier who died on the front line, he was also a revolutionary war poet, writing from his personal traumas and experiences. Owen’s poetry was written so the social stereotypes of war would be challenged and more realistic ideas be shown. Owen focused on the pity of war and how it affected soldiers both physically and mentally, ultimately leading to the waste of a generation. His words provoke us to think about the horrific loss of ethics on the battlefield and how men were dehumanised in the fighting. Two poems that I think evoked the true devastation of the loss of a generation are “Futility” and “Mental cases”. In “Futility” the title itself sets the tone of the poem, moving us to pity for the sadness that the soldiers would have felt knowing that their efforts to revive the dead would be pointless. By juxtaposing the English countryside with the brutal battlefields of France, for example “At home, whispering fields half sown” we are made to think of the tranquil life the soldiers once had. There is sadness as we understand the soldier will not be able to grow up fully – that his is a life half-lived. Owen uses half rhyme, “Sun” and “half-sown”, “once” and “France”, where we are shown that nothing is working for the soldiers and that no matter how hard they try, the soldier will remain – dead. This mirrors Owen’s overarching views on war: a whole generation of men is being sacrificed. The desperation of the soldiers is amplified through the use of rhetorical questions such as, “Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides, Full-nerved – still warm – too hard to stir?” and “Was it for this the clay grew tall?” Here we are confronted with the sad image of young men, who should still have so much life to live,

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