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A comparison of Wilfred Owens 'Disabled' and 'Exposure'

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Tension and disability. A comparison between two poems, all of which are about war and the effects on the mind. Owen talks about World War 1 and how it can affect different people in different ways, his feelings are echoed in the form of characters. Both poems show how companionship almost ends due to war, all the old friends either die or never see you again. The endings and startings in each poem have the same effect; they leave the reader with a question; is war necessary? This question is very important, every soldier at the time must have been thinking why the war actually began, why did Britain get involved? Owen never answered this, but poems were still very emotional. 'Disabled' is about a young man, which went to war, and was sent off like a hero. When he came back a year later, he realised that if he kept in one piece he would have been loved still, but with arms and legs missing. 'Legless, sewn short at elbow', shows the physical implication on the young man, this is like 'Exposure', the first line 'Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...' ...read more.


He shows that in some places on the field there was no need for soldiers, but if there were gaps, then the Germans would have got through. The comparison is that here he wants action, in Disabled he does not. The second stanzas show that there are two lives of a soldier, either one so far back, they belong to another war, or one so intense that lives or even worse limbs can be lost. In Disabled, the second stanza has a certain rhyme, the seventh and the twelfth line do not fit in rhythm with anything else, the eighth, the tenth and the thirteenth line rhyme, also the ninth and the eleventh line rhyme. In Exposure the sixth line rhymes with the ninth line and the seventh line rhymes with the eighth line. In these rhymes the vowel sound changes, but the constantan sound stays the same. In the third stanza is a little bit about the past, present and future it shows how time quickly chances for the solider now that he is back from war. 'Younger than his youth', the reversal is complete. The implication is that his face is now older than his youth. ...read more.


The young man in Disabled is not 'Whole' implying that he is incomplete, less than a man. Ironically he is now dependent on young women to put him to bed, in contrast with his pre-war virile manhood when he could expect to take women to bed. The last four words are the most emotional of all, '...Why don't they come', shows how helpless he was, the weather is cold, and he is all alone and the workers of the institute do not take him inside. This also shows how insignificant he was, as his not remembered. This line can be linked to the recruiting poster of 1914, 'Will they never come?' The soldiers were always expecting reinforcements to come and help them in the war. This soldier is also fighting a war, not against the Germans, but against himself, the mental scars that have been inflict upon him, at the loss of his limbs; the help his is expecting at the time are the nurses. The last image in Exposure is horrifying, as you can see men frozen in ice, while Disabled creates a mournful ending, with him sitting alone, surrounded by complete strangers. The metre in both poems seems to slow down, to almost a stop in both poems towards the end. Varun Garg 5D: English: Poems: Wilfred Owen Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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