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Critical Appraisal of 'Futility'

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Introduction

Critical Appraisal of 'Futility' Jaffar Al-Rikabi 12 - 2 "Do they matter? -those dreams from the pit? ... You can drink and forget and be glad, And people won't say that you're mad..." Siegfried Sassoon, "Does it matter?" August 1914, Britain declares war on Germany and the First World War begins. A war that brings about the deaths of millions of men, the destruction of land to a scale unseen before, and after four years of fighting, the war ends, the reasons as to why it happened still baffles all, yet the effects it had on people were so shockingly clear, yet very few people could absorb it, or even accept it ever happened. Most people in Britain welcomed the start of the war. The feelings of excitement, patriotism, and a sense of duty and the romantic ideas of what war would be like persuaded many to join. People were constantly fed propaganda about what war is like and how it will affect a person, while the true effects were only discovered on the battlefield by soldiers who never came back. For those who came back with severe injuries the trauma was not over. ...read more.

Middle

Through this question Owen seems angry with God for allowing the Sun to bring life on Earth and for creating man from 'clay' since all the men's lives seem to be destined to end in the same pointless way in battle. It is a stark contrast to the wonderful things he describes the Sun to have brought to the 'cold star' (i.e. planet Earth) in the beginning of the poem when there is still hope that the soldier might still live. Then, Owen personifies the Sun as 'kind' and 'old' and uses the verb 'wakes' in the line 'Think how it wakes the seeds-' which reflects the Sun's healing powers and its ability to bring life to a 'cold' and 'sleeping' world. The fact that the sun's rays fail to heal the soldier this time is what seemingly leads Owen to blame God for the huge loss of life and is what perhaps makes the soldiers death all the more shocking. Moreover, although Owen is repulsed by the death of the soldier, through the repetition of 'this' in the line 'Until this morning and this snow' from the fifth line of the poem the reader realises that the emphasis on the pronoun 'this' perhaps tells of how this morning is not like any other and how the sun's rays will not awaken the soldier from sleeping like it 'always' did. ...read more.

Conclusion

complete contrast to Rupert Brooke's poem "Peace" where the phrase "half-men" is used to describe those who do not go to war. The sibilance of 'Legless, sewn' creates a tone of disgust and bitterness thus again echoing his feelings of deep resentment for those who described war as a "game" and as a place where "there's no ill", nor grief, despite knowing otherwise. A feeling also reiterated by Arthur Graeme West's "God! How I hate you", where West exclaims his hatred for those "pious" poets who'd "been to France" and thus known the truth, yet still supported the British Governments' misinterpreted reflection of war with poetry that praised war. In conclusion, through the effective use of personification, repetition, rhetorical questions and other linguistic features, Owen's sonnet reflects an accurate image of war as being useless and destructive to man and nature alike. Much of the stylistic points are also used in Owen's later poems 'Disabled' and 'Dulce et Decorum est' which through a more extensive use of linguistic devices reflect a more horrible and poignant reflection of war... "...But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime... As under a green see, I saw him drowning..." Wilfred Owen, 'Dulce et Decorum est' Jaffar Al-Rikabi Page 1 07/05/2007 ...read more.

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