Both Owen and Sassoon write about the subject of war. In what ways are their poems similar and how are they different? Refer to use of language, themes and form to support your views.
World War 1 was horrific and many lives were lost. People had many different views on the war, but all had the same feelings about the tragic loss of life.
World war 1 began in 1914 and ended in 1918. The central powers mainly Germany and Hungary wanted world domination but the alliance mainly Great Britain, France and Russia arose to prevent this from happening.Order now
The armies did not have very good equipment and conditions were terrible. Many soldiers died from the sheer intensity of those conditions. For months or even years the soldiers had to live in terrible conditions, undernourished and emotionally shaken by the horrific happenings occurring relentlessly every day.
The war was the cause to millions of deaths and many of those few who survived, suffered from “shell shock” which was emotionally crippling. Many people who joined the army to go off to war were put under false pretenses because they were told of glory and heroism but not of the tragedy and death.
By using a sonnet form Wilfred Owen uses irony to provoke emphasis on his feelings of war. A sonnet is a love poem, but this poem is far from that. The poem is mainly about the patriotic soldiers eager to serve, but this turns sour. They spend time rotting in the poor conditions of the trenches, only to be slaughtered. Not only are their lives wasted, gone without funeral, but also the lives of their families ruined.
“Die as cattle,” slaughtered mercilessly. Use of personification, the guns responsible for taking so much human life are made out to be evil. The poem also makes similarity of their deaths to a funeral, where the bells are shots. The drawing down of the blinds, to show that the family is in mourning, is similarity to the putting of a sheet to cover the dead.
The title itself has use of assonance. “Doomed Youth.” The sound is intended to be slow, long and miserable, as sad as the subject of war itself. Onomatopoeia is used to make the sounds real as if we were really there. “Stuttering rifles” and the “patter of orisons hastily uttered.” Repetition and alliteration have also been used to make the poem reflect the nightmare that the army face in the terrible conditions, then their death, expected from the start.
Owen also uses dehumanisation to emphasis the respect that is not given “die as cattle”. Owen gives the soldiers an animal likeness, giving the impression that they are bred solely for one purpose, to be killed. The soldiers are given a number and stripped of their name the thing that makes them civilized and human. They are given the number this is like the cattle being branded. He also uses oxymoron to create a more effective way of provoking emotion.
Owen arises the questions, what real funeral will they have? No passing bells for the dead – only rifle and machine gun fire. No mourning voice – except for “choirs of wailing shells and bugles calling.” The poem ends with the family getting the news of their son”s death – the blinds are drawn as a sign of mourning.
Sassoon uses vivid colour and imagery to provoke emotion “wild purple of the glowering sun”. The soldiers look up at the sun and are intimidated by it; even the sun is their enemy. Sassoon starts off with this imagery and use of colour to set the mood for the rest of the poem.
Sassoon uses alliteration to put emphasis on the appalling conditions “smoldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud”. He describes the surroundings as “menacing” provoking a sort of fear of the landscape. “Scarred slopes” a feel that the land has been hurt and badly cut which has never healed.
“Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire” Sassoon describes the terrifying ordeal they are about to face. He uses the word “creep” to give a feeling of fear and dread.
“The barrage roars” Sassoon gives the attack an animal likeness. This is to put emphasis on the barbaric and unnecessary war.
The title “attack” describes what the content of the poem is all about. It is a very emotive word; it gives the whole feeling of war, sharp and bitter. It is alarming, straight into action.
“Men jostle and climb” Sassoon describes a sort of panic and chaos. This gives a feel of terror and confusion. Sassoon builds up the tension, the panic, the confusion only to give a brilliant anti-climax “time ticks blank”. All time stops and the uncertainty and fear descend upon the soldiers. All sound and movement slows down leaving the person with a confused eerie feeling.
Sassoon ends the poem in a religious and last hope way “O Jesu, make it stop!” Asking the divine and almighty to stop the pain and suffering. This leaves you with the question; will it ever stop? All the way through the poem Sassoon leads and describes but only at the end, to give an effective ending, does he sit back and give his own opinion.
Both Owen and Sassoon write how they are anti-war. They both describe the fear that the soldiers went through and how angry it makes them. They both try to get across the message that war is unnecessary and it should be avoided. They both want to educate people about war because the people were ill educated about the war; this was because the government was very strict on the lease of information. They would not let out anything they did not want people to know the news was suppressed. They both focus on enlightenment.
Owen looks at the ‘big picture’ all the soldiers in general. He does not use have a time frame or certain battle. It could be any battle at any time. Owen tries to show the tragic scale of death and the lack of respect that is paid to them. They die brutal and without a proper burial. He puts emphasis on the way the soldiers became dehumanised.
Sassoon writes as if he is there, as if the battle is happening there and then. So he writes different to Owen because it is in a set time frame, a certain battle at a certain time. Sassoon does not write about the loss of life but instead he focuses on fear and the surroundings.
Sassoon tries to make the reader empathise with the soldiers. Where as Owen tries to shock the reader using vivid colour and sounds.
Owen writes about total annihilation but Sassoon writes of one battle and its progression. Sassoon writes with a narrow focus where as Owen writes with a wide and overall view of the war. This is most significant as this is what sets the poems apart. Owen starts the poem straight into action with ferocity and vividness. Then Owen gradually starts to slow the poem down and the vividness subsides. Sassoon writes consistently with the same level of vividness and ferocity throughout.
Sassoon writes with an irregular rhyming scheme. It is almost free verse, seemingly more informative than poem. Where as, Owen writes in sonnet form using irony to put emphasis on his point.