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

Explore how the theme of love is presented in Birdsong and a selection of poems by Wilfred Owen.

Extracts from this document...


Jennie Patrick Explore how the theme of love is presented in Birdsong and a selection of poems by Wilfred Owen. Loving attitudes, though perhaps not as prominent as themes such as violence and pride, are intimately observed and explored in Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and in many of Wilfred Owen's War poems. Each aspect of love, as seen through the eyes of this First World War soldier and Faulks' characters, is as interesting as it is diverse, allowing an impervious insight into the psychological effects that the War had on these men. Such a formidable event as war has a devastating effect on all parties involved. In total, the First World War saw the deaths of 420,000 English, 450,000 German, and 205,000 French civilians. Through the bleak and most shattering of ordeals, love will show itself in the strangest fashions; surfacing in new and unforeseen places, and overriding all tribulations. I believe the two texts I have selected support this view, portraying clearly many different features of the love that war made apparent, love that was forced to survive horrendous difficulties, and the love which was occasionally lost. Propaganda for The Great War sold a message of equality, duty and devotion, striking a patriotic chord throughout England with slogans such as: "Everyone should do his bit", and "God bless dear daddy who is fighting the Hun and send him HELP". ...read more.


I feel that the love these men had for their fellow soldiers was a perfectly natural and beautiful love, the tragedy being that most of these loving friendships were lost through the death and destruction of the war. At one level, Owen's poem Futility is a simple concept; yet another soldier has died in battle, and the warmth of the sun cannot wake him despite the fact that it created life to begin with. The hypothetical question to round up the poem is therefore inevitable: "O what made fatuous sunbeams toil To break Earth's sleep at all?" Was it really worth creating life if all we do is destroy it? On another level, the double meanings and perpetual question within this poem leads the reader to ponder the meaning of life, and is consequently the basis for many philosophical questions. It makes you think harder about the futility of war, and raises a number of doubts concerning the power of the sun as a life-giving being. It also explores the ironic love of nature that the soldiers found themselves possessing. They are trapped in a circle of destruction; loving the beauty of nature, but being forced to demolish everything in their path. The personification of the sun, "The kind old sun", aids to highlight this eternal beauty and give the poem a maternal air. The surrounding environment for Stephen in Birdsong is described as being "picturesque", and the "little islands of damp fertility divided by the channels of the split river" is the setting for the colossal war that is to take place later in the book. ...read more.


The fiery passion between Stephen and Isabelle in pages 58-61 reflects the horrors that have yet to come; "Her face and neck were suffused with a pink glow where the blood was diluted by the colour of the milky young skin", "He looked at her fiercely", and represents the zealous aspect of love which is significantly recorded in the book. Love is composed of many intense elements, and remains the subject of much confusion after thousands of years of deliberation. Such concentrated emotions as experienced during the war are bound to elicit a love at a measure never before witnessed, and these two forms of writing prove this. Love is shown in these texts through comradeship, pride, dependence and patriotism. Love is therefore presented as both a struggle and a blessing in these two styles of writing, Owen using mostly images of Hell and nature to invoke tender feelings, such as the personification of "The kind old sun" in Futility and "the haunting flares" in Dulce Et Decorum Est; Faulkes using emotive language and character relationships to portray the sadness and the loss encountered during the war. Both are successful in their attempt to show love enduring everything, and of love being borne from human nature's lust for survival. Footnotes ´┐ŻOwen's poem Dulce Et Decorum Est was originally dedicated to Jessie Pope, but under the advice of Sassoon, Owen settled for using "My friend" to represent her, believing that a name check was perhaps too strong. ...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

4 star(s)

**** 4 stars.

This is a very good essay and a very valiant attempt to answer a question that could lend itself to a dissertation.
The writer shows an understanding of both novel and poems and there is evidence of thorough research and wider reading. Good inclusion of social and historical contextual factors. Accurate use of terminology and well selected quotes to support arguments.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 05/07/2013

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

    The causes of world war one

    4 star(s)

    A series of trials led to a development of a prototype, which was nicknamed "big Willie." The new tanks made their military combat debut on 15th September at the Somme. They were cast forward in a haphazard manner. It was not until 1917 that tanks were successfully employed en masse at Cambrai.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Choose 3 poems by Wilfred Owen that look at different aspects of war. Compare ...

    4 star(s)

    From here on there are only nods and winks directing these men to their fate conveying furthermore that these men have already been written off as dead. Whilst 'The Send Off' opens with the soldiers heading off for war with a slight sense of uncertainty, 'Dulce Et' is entirely different.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison of "Who's for the Game" and "Dulce et Decorum est".

    3 star(s)

    a wagon and how the soldiers were attacked with gas are violent images and sounds. The poet deliberately shocks the readers by describing in detail of the soldiers death. He told us how blood came foaming from his mouth and how it was so awful he was like a devil sick of sin.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    A Critical Analysis of ‘Strange Meeting’ by Wilfred Owen

    3 star(s)

    He states that war is a cause of unnecessary pain and that he was willing to give everything to live a wild and beautiful life, but he was willing to give nothing to war. This intensifies his reasons to feel bitter and helps to set the tone of the poem.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The poem that I have chosen to analyse is "Exposure" by Wilfred Owen.

    3 star(s)

    more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey," The sun is said to be attacking in ranks, which means that the sun is getting increasingly brighter and warmer. The shivering ranks of grey are the British army in their grey uniforms, who are cold and scared.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast attitudes to war illustrated in Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the game?’ ...

    3 star(s)

    It also tells us that the knowledge she has about war is incorrect. In the second line she is motivating men to join the army because she knows that the opportunity to hold a gun and be able to use it will attract many men (boys with their toys).

  1. The Lost Generation in The Sun Also Rises

    "Everybody's sick. I'm sick too," replies the prostitute (Hemingway 21). Although she does not specify exactly how she herself is sick, the prostitute believes that the Great War has caused everyone a certain degree of sickness and suffering. Michael Friedberg states that the prostitute's statement is "no doubt also a reference to the state of the world itself" (176).

  2. Free essay

    Journeys End Courseowkr

    The deaths of two of the most important characters in the play Osborne, the paternal figure, and Raleigh, the figure of innocence and naivety are extremely important, as are their effects on Stanhope and are another horror of war.

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