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GCSE English Coursework - Wilfred Owen

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GCSE English Coursework - Wilfred Owen By R.E. Warden Wilfred Owen served as an officer in the first world war. He spent several months in Craig Lockhart War Hospital during the war suffering from neurasthenia, or shell shock, where he met Siegfried Sassoon, another war poet, and wrote some of his best poetry. He saw his fellow soldiers struggle, fight and die in the mud and misery of the trenches and was enraged with the senseless killing on the battlefield. He felt that it was a terrible waste of life. As a tragic example of the "doomed youth" of his own poems, he was killed by German machine-gun fire at the age of only 25, just 7 days before the Armistice. The bells were ringing in Shrewsbury to celebrate the Armistice when the doorbell rang at his parents' home, bringing them the telegram with the news of their son's death. Wilfred Owen expresses his low opinion of war in "Disabled" through the sadness and regret of a young man who lost both arms and both legs in the fighting. The poem contrasts the past and the present, with the young man in his hospital bed remembering what his life used to be like. ...read more.


have been maimed and mutilated by the fighting, as this is a side of war they have not had to face before. He speaks sarcastically about a man who "Thanked him, and then enquired about his soul", implying either that now most of his body is gone his soul is all he has left, or that he will soon die, or both. Owen criticises the authorities as he describes how: "He asked to join. He didn't have to beg; Smiling, they wrote his lie, aged nineteen years." They knew very well that he was not really nineteen but they did not care, they simply wanted soldiers. Owen also criticises the treatment by the authorities of the young injured men who have to rely on others for everything. The young man knows he will go into an institute, and "Do what things the rules consider wise, And take whatever pity they may dole." His individual needs will not be cared for, it will all be very impersonal, and pity will be 'doled out' like some sort of commodity. We really pity the young man, who knows he will not live much longer, because we feel that it is a complete waste of his life, which has been cut short while he is still young. ...read more.


He tells the reader (i.e. Jessie Pope) that if they could experience these horrors and if they knew what war was actually like they would not believe, or encourage anyone else to believe, in the "old Lie" - which people have believed for too long, that "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" or in English, "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country". The tone of "Dulce Et Decorum Est" is much angrier and more attacking than that of "Disabled", which is bitter and regretful, with the tragedy of the young man's decimated life and inevitable death as the focal point. The poignancy is sharpened by his intense bitterness when he looks back at the flippant, shallow reasons why he joined the army and, in effect, threw his life away. This ties in with "Dulce Et Decorum Est" in that his attitude to war is that of so many people who knew nothing about what it was really like, like Jessie Pope - thinking only of the honour and the glory, and in his case, the thought does not even occur to him of dying for his country. These were exactly the sorts of attitudes Wilfred Owen was trying to change through his poetry. ...read more.

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