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Critically examine Wilfred Owen's 'Disabled' and 'Anthem for the Doomed Youth' as testimonies of the horror and futility of war.

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Introduction

Critically examine Wilfred Owen's 'Disabled' and 'Anthem for the Doomed Youth' as testimonies of the horror and futility of war. Owen wrote the poems 'Anthem for the Doomed Youth' and 'Disabled" in the year 1917. He thought of these poems when he was in the hospital recovering from 'shell shock'. Both poems show his personal revulsion for war and crystallize the popular views of the intellectuals and sociologists of that time, all of whom were anti-war. There is no doubt that both poems bring home the horror and futility of armed conflict. The only difference is that where one is more specific, the other is general. 'Disabled' focuses on the life of one soldier who lost both his legs in the war and is confined for the rest of his life to a wheelchair. The poem brings out the pathos of his condition. He sits in the dark "legless" listening to the boys "voices of play and pleasure after day" he reflects on how his life has been destroyed. 'Anthem for the Doomed Youth' describes the fate suffered by young men in the war in general. How they are slaughtered like cattle and how no one sings their "orisons" for them. ...read more.

Middle

Young human life is wasted, families are devastated and people are robbed of their right to live. In Anthem for the Doomed Youth the lost of family and friends is shown in the second stanza where the friends of dead soldiers hold back their tears and the faces of the girls turn pale at the great loss though there is no loud mourning but the pain is intense and what has been gained by all this. Nothing, no problems are solved. Again in Disabled the life of the soldier is wasted in vain as there is no evidence that the sacrifice that he gave was effective in any way. In fact no one even knows where he is, no one bothers about him. In the war he was only a statistic not a name. Young men are always lured by the propaganda of their respected governments which leads them on to join the army or air force. Though in Anthem for the Doomed Youth Owen does not touch on this sensitive issue, Disabled does show that a soldier's uniform, rules of leave and salary did attract him to join the army. Also the "smart salutes" "the care of arms" and daggers with jeweled hilts" attracted him. ...read more.

Conclusion

None of these sacrifices can be justified; the loss or maiming of human life can never be forgiven. The mood of the poems is somber and dark, and there is a suppressed rage at the insecurity of the world. Owen has made his point very efficiently. After reading the poems I was instantly shocked into realization of how horrible war can be. It is not that I was not aware of this but these poems seemed to give a peg to my awareness. I was forced to think and after thinking reject war entirely. It did not solve problems in fact it multiplied them. I was reminded of the II World War that had come after the first which is when these poems were written. The II World War was horrifying because it was the first time that a nuclear bomb was used and look at the destruction it cause. I was reminded of the photograph of that little girl running away from the flame of the napalm in the Reader Digests. She was naked as her clothes had been burnt, her skin was peeling off and her mouth was wide open in an unheard scream. I thought of the incapitated soldier in Disabled. I have for life become a person who will hate war and maybe someday I will do something to stop the conflicts in the world. ...read more.

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