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

Critical Response: 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen.

Extracts from this document...


Critical Response: 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen 'The Sentry' by Wilfred Owen, written as a result of a horrific incident the poet witnessed in the trenches of World War One, tells the reader of the terrible conditions and experiences that the men endured throughout the war. He focuses on a particular memory of when a sentry was blasted from his post and was badly hurt. Owens description of this traumatising event evokes clear images in the reader's mind and it becomes even more poignant when we consider this is a real life experience of the poet. The first lines of this poem quickly bring us to realise the abysmal conditions of the trenches in world war one. The descriptions of the weather: "Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime" shows the strength and volume of rain falling on the men, and by using onomatopoeia in the word ''guttering" Owen describes the rain effectively. The following lines: "Kept slush waist high that, rising hour by hour Choked up the steps too thick with clay to climb" convey the extreme height and speed that the level of water is rising, the repetition of "hour by hour" emphasises the length of their endurance. ...read more.


The sentry is first introduced into the poem after the shell Owen describes has hit: "And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came thumping And splashing in the flood, deluging muck - The sentry's body;" The onomatopoeia used emphasises the helplessness of the sentry as he is falling down the steps, "splashing in the flood" again emphasizes the volume of water in the trenches, "deluging muck" shows the extreme amount of mud accompanying the water. By saying "The sentry's body" Owen implies that the sentry is already dead. "We dredged him up, for killed, until he whined 'O sir, my eyes - I'm blind - I'm blind, I'm blind!' " 'dredged' insinuates an enormous effort my Owen and his men to lift the sentry out of the mud and water, 'for killed' again shows that Owen believed him dead. The use of the word 'whined' in describing the sentry's speech proposes the sentry's suffering and inability to properly use his voice. Quoting his speech indicates that the incident that he witnessed had a very strong impact on him. The repetition in the sentry's speech also helps show his desperation and vulnerable state and evokes sympathy in the reader. ...read more.


and the onomatopoeia in "wild chattering" shows how shaken and traumatised he must have been, and how Owen himself was shaken and was listening to him. Owen finishes his poem: "Through the dense din, I say, we heard him shout 'I see your lights!' But ours had long since died out." He uses alliteration efficiently "dense din" which shows the level of noise that there was in the trenches. There is a definite tone of bitterness and resentment in the final line: "'I see your lights!' But ours had long since died out." The two meanings, that not only had the lights they were carrying had died out, that also their hope had gone, a very pessimistic ending to the poem. I believe that the theme throughout the poem is distinctly the horror of war. Owen conveys this message through a horrific incident, which had stayed clear in his mind and had affected him deeply. His tone is bitter and at times sarcastic and shows his anger towards the war. I think that Owen has portrayed his personal experiences of the war brilliantly in this poem and I believe he has succeeded in showing the reality of the war and the fact that there is nothing wonderful about war. Emma Nicolson 3C1 ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The writer has engaged with the poem and provides some insight into poetic techniques. A good deal of evidence is used throughout. To improve, the essay would benefit from clearer planning, using poetic techniques or aspects of narrative to structure the essay. For example, a paragraph to explore narrative voice, another to explore imagery, another to explore structural features of rhythm and rhyme and so on. This would enable a much more coherent essay that did not need to wade through the poem line by line. Careful planning will ensure important aspects are not missed altogether, as was the case here, where structural features were ignored. Overall ***, but only just.

Marked by teacher Lucy Foss 04/03/2013

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. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the use of symbolism in the novel Fly Away Peter

    4 star(s)

    Another symbolic representation of how life was continuing is when Jim and some other soldiers are collecting wood and they discover a man digging in the soil, preparing for the winter sowing of the earth. "Something in his refusal to accept the limiting nature of conditions" (Pg. 106, Chpt. 14)

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Analysing Wilfred Owens' Poem Disabled.

    4 star(s)

    He wants to be put to death as he feels like he has and can do nothing that he feels will make his life tolerable and he feels as tough nothing that he does or feels will make him feel his life is worth it.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    A Critical Analysis of ‘Strange Meeting’ by Wilfred Owen

    3 star(s)

    Obviously, there may be more messages open for debate, but these were the ones which presented themselves to me. This poem has a reflective tone, with places of irony and bitterness. This relates well to the theme and subject matter of the poem.

  2. WAR POETRY: Themes in War Poetry

    "Sleeping and walk hell; but who these hellish?" These questions, who are they? Who lives like that? These soldiers do nothing except from sleep for a short while and march through the hell that is called war. All these descriptions of war are used to explain and illustrate how the soldiers lived and why they became mentally ill.

  1. Regeneration - The Horror of Pity and War

    Both Barker and Owen have shown effectively the damaging effect to the minds of the soldiers. Through the horror and pity of the war we see that not only are the soldiers affected by the war as in 'Regeneration', chapter nine, Barker puts across that officers don't suffer from the war in the way soldiers do.

  2. A critical appreciation of 'Mental Cases', by Wilfred Owen, showing its relation to other ...

    The capitalization of the 'd' shows how powerful the impact of war. These 'men' were once brave young soldiers, now they are unrecognizable. The powerful image of 'memory fingers in their hair of murders multitudinous murders they once witnessed' is chilling due to the alliteration of the 'm', which gives it a haunting rhythm.

  1. "Suicide in the trenches" was written in 1917 and is a very emotional peom.

    Sometimes they wrote together but their styles are quite different. Wilfred Owen's poems are long and have more than one message. Sassoon's poems are shorter and are more to the point. Wilfred Owen's poem `Exposure' tells us how the soldiers are exposed to the weather, the enemy and the lies they have been told about war.

  2. Explore the way Nature is effective in Wilfred Owen's Exposure

    The word 'drowse' could be another echo of Keats 'Ode to a Nightingale' and it also shows the effect that the harsh weather has taken it's toll on the men causing them to fall into a dangerous state of hypothermia.

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