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How do the authors present the theme of futility of war in All Quiet on the Western Front and Testament of Youth?

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How do the authors present the theme of futility of war in All Quiet on the Western Front and Testament of Youth? World War One is well-known for the horrific amount of men who died in it, many of whom did not fully believe in or understand the causes they fought for. War literature presents the modern reader with peoples' experiences from the period. Their views are integral in shaping our own opinions on war. Although war literature often differs in its composition, many themes are concurrent throughout the genre. All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque and Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, both portray the theme of futility of war. They are both drastically different in their portrayal, one an account from a German soldier and the other, an autobiography by a British woman; the ideas that they present on how war is futile presents a human wide consciousness of its futility and begs the readers to question the human nature of declaring and fighting war. The First World War was dubbed 'the war to end all wars' but it did not end all wars as the name might suggest, rather it simply set the pattern for new and even more mechanised killing. Remarque thoroughly explores the impersonality of killing and the idea of a mechanised war in All Quiet on the Western Front. One way in which he presents this idea is through a very matter of fact approach to fighting and injury such as: 'Kat and Kropp even make another sortie during the afternoon. ...read more.


Testament of Youth was 'the real book of the women of England'1 and presents the strife of women during World War One. Virginia Woolf expressed the more widespread response, she mocked the story of how she lost her lover and the other clich�s of war literature, she admitted that much about the book had interested her and in turn had left its mark on her own novel The Years that had been influenced by Brittain's connection between feminism and pacifism2. Remarque expresses the theme of brutality of war through his clever use of irony, such as in the first chapter. On the opening page of the first chapter, the protagonist narrates: 'We haven't had a stroke of luck like this for ages'. The men feel lucky for receiving a double ration yet this is due to the fact they lost a large amount of men because 'the English guns kept on pounding [their] position'. This is both an example of verbal and structured irony, which is used extensively throughout the novel. It is first perceived that the double rations are what are lucky, but the death of half the platoon provides the luck. It is structured irony also, because the remainder of the platoon know they are lucky in receiving the extra rations due to the death of half of their platoon, yet they do not understand its significance. They have been immune to the concept of death to survive. ...read more.


She links her ideas of feminism to pacifism. Her aspirations to gain an education and then to work towards the war effort she had to confront her own susceptibility as a younger woman to the glamour of war. It became apparent that Brittain was ready to reject anything that identified war 'with grey crossed, and supreme sacrifices, and red poppies blowing against a serene blue sky'. Both Testament of Youth and All Quiet on the Western Front, focus heavily on the theme of futility of war and as suggested by other critical appreciations of the texts, the focus on the novels concentrates heavily on illustration war without glory, without heroism. They both present death as the real enemy within war. Brittain focuses on the dismantling of the fa�ade of an honourable and glorious war, and invokes her feminist and pacifist ideology (much of what she forms after her experiences of the war) to demonstrate this. Whilst Remarque also illustrates how war is not glorious, his use of imagery and irony help to form images of how brutal war was and how it affected the lives of the young soldiers fighting in it. The theme of brutality of war, and the dismantling of the fa�ade both present Brittain's and Remarque's views on the futility of war. 1 'The Writer's War', Oliver Edwards, The Times, 19th November 1964 2 Introduction of Testament of Youth by Mark Bostridge, February 2004 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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