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Idealism and Pragmatism

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Idealism Vs Reality 'Education' and 'England to Her Sons' Sophie Thompson The two poems I will be analysing are 'Education' and 'England to Her Sons'. The poems are very different from one another as they express very divert themes and manifest various aspects on the war. Comparing and contrasting the poems is interesting as we consider the perspective of both male and female poets and there judgment on the war. The poem 'Education' by Pauline Barrington conveys the sense of helplessness and fear for the next generation of children and questions whether she should honour 'Mother England'. The poem 'England to Her Sons' displays a strong sense of idealistic patriotism and infers that it is the sons of England's duty to fight in the war. In the first stanza of 'Education' Barrington demonstrates how children play an innocent game of toy soldiers 'The children play with soldiers made of tin,' the game is brutalised by the realities of war and we question whether or not innocence can be preserved in an atmosphere of horror? This pure innocent image is modified and impacted on by the goings on in such a beastly war. ...read more.


The reality of war for women was having no voice and remaining helpless and fearing for their children's damaged futures. This is related to 'England to Her Sons' as in the poem runs a male dominated view of war and is directed at the men of England. We see this in the words 'Sons, His, He,' the masculine pronouns reinforce how in reality women had no voice in the war and the view that women did not have the linguistic currency to deal with the reality of war. The poem also supports how in reality the war was a male dominated experience where the women could only watch helplessly and have a minor influence. Women especially were encouraged to subscribe to the view that their role in wartime was to sacrifice their men folk to the cause. There was a great separation between front-line men and home-line women which is portrayed by the structure in 'Education' as men were surrounded by concrete nouns as war was a time for action whilst women were surrounded by abstract nouns. In the poem 'Education' women question the ideals behind war. ...read more.


A similar idea is expressed in Barrington's 'Education' in the phrase 'History for the children of tomorrow,' where women are torn between supporting the war or standing out against it for fear of the wars impact on their children and offending 'Mother England' their home country. Women could linken themselves to the mother of Christ as the man themselves were frequently linked to the sacrificed Christ. The two poems convey very different messages on the war. The poem 'Education' is a battle between idealism and reality and contemplates on is the war a game or reality? The poem 'England to her sons' uses idealised patriotism and propaganda methods to encourage the men of England to join and support the war effort and has no mention of reality. The poem was written at the beginning of the war where poetry was used to express the national glorification of war. Later on when the horrors of war began to reach the home front the frustrated women would use poetry as a way of objecting to the war as in reality they had no voice and remained helpless. We do not know when 'Education' was written as anti-war literature was suppressed from 1914 under the Defence of the Realm Act. ...read more.

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