• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the work of Owen and Heller in their treatment of war.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the work of Owen and Heller in their treatment of war The war poetry of Wilfrid Owen and the novel Catch 22 by Joseph Heller contain many creditable and individual features that have helped cement their reputation as two of the most illustrious 'anti-war' writers of the 20th century. However, I feel in order for one to thoroughly acknowledge and appreciate the remarkable attributes that both works accommodate, one firstly needs to develop a clear understanding of their origin and how both context and persona have helped shape each piece. In my opinion, if we were to conscientiously evaluate Owens statement in the Preface to his poetry 'My subject is war and the pity of war; this will perhaps create a platform from which to locate the distinctions and analogies between the two writers. Owen's Preface is catalytic, for its universality allows it to travel, providing one of the many alliances between both Owen himself and Joseph Heller. However it must become clear to the reader that judgement lies in the progression of humanity, the impact of both cannot be dated and enclosed in the time-period of publication, as insisted on by Siegfired Sassoon who wrote of Owen 'The importance of his contribution to the literature of war cannot be decided by those like myself, who admired him as a friend and a poet'. Significance lies in the dictation of the future. Both writers communication with humanity is in itself a struggle, but in this day and age we have the additional advantage of hindsight. Professor Malcolm Bradbury for example, wrote of how time has strengthened Catch 22, 'The prevailing sense of futility of war that runs through the book wouldn't have gone down well in 1945/6 but by the beginning of the 60's it really worked. Owens preface impels us to challenge the definition of war, as paradoxically we witness how both writers exploit the repulsive deceitful elements associated with military warfare to impose their own definition on a much deeper, more extensive level. ...read more.

Middle

Its as simple as that'. This provides a paradox, for one cannot argue against the soldier's purpose and allegiance, yet the fallacy of the simplicity blurs the choice or the 'reality' that Korn offers. In my opinion, if one where to use the tantalizing torture of the Titanic's measured yet unavoidable demise under the depths of the Atlantic in 1912, this would provide a fitting metaphor for Heller's treatment of religion in Catch 22. The actuality of war embodies the subtle and underestimated iceberg, testing the potency of religion, instilling the soldiers with a frightened yet confined recognition. 'For the love of God seems dying' In Wilfrid Owen's Exposure for example. Still using this analogy, we witness how religion almost subconsciously ' forfeits' itself to the corrupt authority. Heller permits these people with the power to manipulate life and death. Lieutenant Scheiskopf's wife for example, advises Yossarian 'You'd better not talk that way about him, honey. He might punish you' which perfectly compliments Colonel Cathcart's earlier words 'Maybe sixty missions were too many for the men to fly..he ought to increase the number at once to seventy, eighty..' However, this metamorphosis becomes quite sophisticated. Rather subtlety, Heller obscures his answer through concealing it in the chaplain. Religion enters the novel 'Flound'ring' like that 'man in fire or lime' that Owen introduces in D.E.D.E.. Although to Heller, parading religion's inefficiency at war so distinctly would be too simple. Heller uses the journey of the chaplain from original morality to inversion 'Tell him to pray to God, Chaplain' to confirmation of his position as an interloper at war 'What disgrace? I'm more in disgrace now', 'I've never told a lie before, isn't it great?' This impeccably explains why such characters like Yossarian and Dunbar who, we as readers may consider sane, argue that 'there is no God'. It is once again another binary opposite, Heller throws at us. ...read more.

Conclusion

The skies in Catch 22 are used as a backdrop for death and disappearance. The density of the 'clouds' for example help ease the soldier's transition into obscurity. 'During the night, the cloud blew away and in the morning there was no more Clevinger'. The plane becomes a place of solitude 'There was only one place to go in an aeroplane and that was another part of the aeroplane'. In such a confined space therefore, survival boils down to individual mentality. The external world are left debilitated 'Waving his arms and shouting up at him, Mc Watt come down, but no-one could hear, certainly not Mc Watt'. The same feeling of helplessness is articulated in D.E.D.E 'Before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning'. The intimacy between both Owen and his victim makes his inability to help much more tormenting and cruel. The facetious nature of Catch 22 rather fittingly exemplifies Heller's resentment and rebellion towards conventional attitudes to war. In my opinion, to use General Peckem's words 'It never escaped his memory that neither black nor white was a colour' would to some extent help explain his motives for using humour in this novel. Heller uses humour as an attack against the established panorama of war. Peckems words evoke a subtle question, why should we observe the world in black and white and decide where things are and are not appropriate? Humour rebels against our subconscious extraction of its presence, fighting against the norm. Of course, If Owen where to adopt a similar humorous approach to his work, this would perhaps vanquish his objective to resist any poetic skill or effort. In the same way, Heller uses a character like Milo to 'paint' over the American ethos, Owen uses this technique to demonstrate how war has encroached the beauty of laughter. 'Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter'. Owen gives blood a kind of discomforting persona. It becomes the enemy that has taken over territory, pre-occupying the lungs. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    "With Specific focus on Wilfred Owen poems Disabled, Mental cases, Dulce et Decorum est, ...

    4 star(s)

    It is mostly used in Mental cases, the opening line is, "Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?" On first inspection, the poem seems to be an extremely deep question, many soldiers became mentally out of control, the question is used at the beginning to confuse the reader and show the madness of the soldiers.

  2. How is Manderly an appropriate setting for a Gothic novel in spite of its ...

    Miller carries on but after the mud and smoke has cleared you can see that Miller is now only pulling somebody's dead torso. Spielberg created the film to show war in its truly chaotic, devastating and destructive self. The storyline is like no other war film of the same genre,

  1. Critical Appraisal of 'Futility'

    sense that his death was inevitable, almost because it was God's decision to end his life there and then, since it was hinted at earlier on and never really written off from there on. Blaming God for the tragedies of war is a theme also present in Owen's poem 'Exposure'

  2. Diary of a Titanic Survivor

    I hope I'm not in the trenches for too long this war has gone on long enough and enough innocent people have died. January 12th 1919 I am so glad to be home with my wife and two children. Today I went to see Harry and Charlie's wives.

  1. Compare and Contrast Poems by Sassoon and by Owen, how they bring out ...

    This is where the two poets are different. Owen tends to give us the full brutality of what happens at war, raising the awareness of the public that it is not a game "the biggest that's played" but a bloody mess. Sassoon likes to target the officers that thought that is was a game, and sliced into their

  2. Hardy vs. Sitwell

    strongly associated with death, murder and war, such as 'blood', 'death', 'mad', 'horror', and so on, continuously scattered throughout the poem. This means that we're always reminded of the subject area and its terribleness. Hardy's poem only really hits you with this semantic field at the end, but instead of

  1. The infamous gateway of the entrance to Auschwitz.

    Entrance of a gas chamber in Auschwitz. During its history, the prison population of Auschwitz changed composition significantly. At first, its inmates were almost entirely Polish. Between April 1940 to March 1942, the camp had about 27,000 inmates, 30 percent of these were Poles and 57 percent were Jews.

  2. Choose a period of transitions of Owens work and analyse

    This poem can be seen as very cleverly written. Owen carries throughout alliteration both vertically and horizontally. It is obvious in this poem that Owen has not yet experienced war, his writing is cheerful with hope and expectations, it is chirpy and this mood is carried throughout the poem.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work