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A comparison of the way in which soldiers joined the army.

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Introduction

BASING YOUR ANSWER ON EXTRACT A AND EXTRACT B YOU SHOULD: * WRITE A COMPARISON OF THE WAY IN WHICH SOLDIERS JOINED THE ARMY * SAY HOW FAR YOU AGREE WITH THE VIEWS THAT 'DAUNTLESS DAN' IS PRESENTED IN A ROMANTIC, IDEALISED WAY AND THAT 'THE CONSCRIPT' IS PRESENTED WITH STARK REALISM. Extract A is a poem called 'Dauntless Dan' was written by Maurice McGill for his father who fought in the Boer War from 1899 to 1902. The poem is a celebration of Dan McGill's bravery on the battlefield and his endless amount of skill. The poem 'The Conscript' is Extract B and was written by Wilfred Wilson Gibson and it is centred on the controversial issue of conscription. The poem must therefore have been written after conscription was introduced in England in late 1916, not long after the Battle of the Somme in World War 1. Gibson's poem is a description of the processes of conscription, and the attitudes of people towards it at the time. 'Dauntless Dan' takes on the form of an Ode, incorporating a rhyme scheme into its structure. This has the effect of giving the poem a jaunty air and making it easier to remember and recite, rather like many patriotic war songs sung during World War 1. ...read more.

Middle

The poem vents at the way conscripts are recruited and passed for fitness to fight, saying that the doctors are even bored with the process of having to pass every one of the men, even if they are clearly not fit to fight. Gibson describes the process of conscription as very dull and dreary 'Indifferent, flippant, earnest, but all bored, The doctors sit in the glare of electric light' it gives the impression that the whole process is automated, that each applicant is fit to be sent to fight, making the doctors redundant in their analysis and creating the feeling of indifference. 'Bodies of men for whom their hasty award means life or death, or the living death' this quote is significant of the poets view, as he sees the soldiers being treated as bodies, like ammunition being fed into the machine gun that is the war, regardless of the loss of life and humanity. Gibson outlines that the decision of the doctors could mean life or death for the prospective soldier, but what is interesting is the use of 'the living death' which is perhaps significant of trench life at the time, reminiscent of letters written by Wilfred Owen to his mother stating the atrocious conditions of life in the trenches. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, the soldiers could end up with mangled limbs or being blinded, or having a darkened brain, meaning of course that they could be shot in the head, resulting in the brain being darkened by the flow of blood. There is no element of romanticism or idealism, as the soldiers remain nameless, and therefore unacknowledged and uncelebrated. The poem is more identifiable with modern day society, where individual soldiers are not celebrated in the way the Dauntless Dan is. There is no gaiety or joyousness in 'The Conscript', only graveness and a feeling of desolateness, mirroring with the way people would be feeling during the First World War, especially after the Battle of the Somme. I would have to agree wholeheartedly that 'The Conscript' is presented with a stark realistic approach. To conclude with, I would have to say that the two poems describe the way in which soldiers joined the army in very different ways. 'Dauntless Dan' presents the idea of patriotism and volunteering to fight through bravery and courage, whereas 'The Conscript' shows that the process of conscription is far less glamorous and it is not worth celebrating the fact that these innocent men are being driven to their deaths without the slightest feeling of compassion or remorse. Emile Khan ...read more.

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