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setting of the poem contributes greatly to the meaning. The title, "Casualty-Mental Ward" is essential to understanding

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Introduction

The setting of the poem contributes greatly to the meaning. The title, "Casualty-Mental Ward" is essential to understanding the setting. I personally think that the setting takes place in a mental ward itself and that the speaker is a patient there. This can be seen by looking at line 16, "As all eyes close, they gather around my bed." The fact that the speaker is in a bed surrounded by others, makes it seem as if he is at mental unrest. It is almost as if the speaker is being strapped down and watched over constantly. The fact that the whole poem takes place in a mental ward can be further proven through Scannell's use of diction. The words "they" and "their" are used frequently throughout. These words refer to two different sets of people. The more obvious group of people is the dead people themselves. More specifically, they are the dead soldiers, the ones that the speaker has seen die during the war. ...read more.

Middle

It is unclear what he is talking about, another common trait of a mental patient. Finally, in the last stanza, the two sets of personas - the dead people and the doctors - seem to come together. This is shown through the use of the word "all" in line 16 of the last stanza. "As all eyes close, they gather around my bed and whisper consolation." At this point, it is not clear whom the speaker is referring to. It could be both the doctors that are comforting him as well as the dead soldiers. This quatrain shows both the coming together of the lines, "Something has gone wrong inside my head" and "I hold long conversations with the dead", as well as connecting the two groups of personas. This, in turn, creates a kind of creepy effect, showing the intensity of this man's insanity. The form of this poem is parallel to the theme itself. In a villanelle, the first line and the third line of the poem are repeated constantly. ...read more.

Conclusion

Similarly, the speaker in the poem cannot communicate his emotions with the people around him, relying on the comfort of the dead soldiers. It can be seen from this poem that war has a detrimental effect on its soldiers. Some people, like the speaker in this poem, can never forget the atrocities of war and can hence, never move past it. The setting of the poem, at first, seems like it is in a war scene as on line two it says, "The sappers have left mines and wire behind." However, the setting is not at war. Rather, it is the thoughts of the speaker that is still at war. Even though the speaker is in a mental hospital, he keeps imagining war scenes. This makes it clear how insane the speaker is. Lines 7 and 8 read, "Not just the sky but grass and trees are red. The flares and tracers - or I'm color blind." The speaker sees peaceful things in nature, such as grass and trees, and sees them in the gruesome, bloody color red. Despite being trapped and held down in a mental ward, the speaker does not stop thinking about death and war. ...read more.

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