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Contrast the attitudes towards fighting in war expressed by Shakespeare’s Henry V and Wilfred Owen. Show how the way in which each poem is written serves to bring out these attitudes very clearly. Say, with reasons which poem you prefer

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Introduction

'Contrast the attitudes towards fighting in war expressed by Shakespeare's Henry V and Wilfred Owen. Show how the way in which each poem is written serves to bring out these attitudes very clearly. Say, with reasons which poem you prefer.' Both poems, 'Before Agincourt' and 'The Send-off' have the same subject of being sent off to fight in a war. Whereas Shakespeare's poem glorifies war and tells of the honour that comes from serving with your country, Owen tells of the pointless waste of life that is involved in war. The poems also differ in that Owen is writing what he sees and his own experiences while Shakespeare is writing the views of Henry V. In 'Berfore Agincourt', Henry is trying to persuade his troops to fight a battle they have very little chance of winning. His cousin and general Westmoreland asks him for reinforcements but Henry refuses saying, 'the fewer the men the greater the honour.' Meaning that if they win, the victory will be greater as there were fewer men to share the honour with. ...read more.

Middle

This would have made his soldiers feel as though they too had a reason to be confident. In Wilfred Owen's poem, 'The Send-off' young inexperienced boys are being sent off to fight in a foreign country. They don't know what to expect and have no idea of the horrors that await them in the trenches. The poem starts off with the recruits making their way to the train station; we are told that they 'sang their way'. This would suggest that they are happy. They then line the train 'with faces grimly gay'. The words grimly and grey are very sinister and contrast with the first line where they are cheerful. This line tells us that there is great uncertainty on behalf of the recruits as to where they are going and although they are trying to be happy they can't help but worry about the ominous situation they are facing. Owen then goes on to say that, 'Their breasts are stuck all white with wreath and spray As men's are, dead.' ...read more.

Conclusion

I prefer Wilfred Owen's poem 'The Send-off' to Shakespeare's 'Before Agincourt'. I like the downbeat and subdued rhythm and the rhymed verse. I also think Wilfred Owens views on war are far more truthful and coincide with my own. He not only illustrates the amount of pointless death, but he tells of the mental and physical anguish that tortures the survivors even after they have returned home. Owen does not give war any sort of false honour as there is nothing worth celebrating in a wasted life. He himself fought in the war and so was under no false illusions as to the harsh and brutal realities faced in the trenches. He wanted everyone else to know the truth about war and used poetry as his medium. 'Above all I am not concerned with poetry. My subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity.' Henry V has many romantic notions of an honourable death, but death is not honourable when it is realised whilst trying to end the life of another human being. Roisin Cowan 4a 22.03.01 ...read more.

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