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The War Poems of Wilfred Owen, ‘Disabled’ and ‘Mental Cases’

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Introduction

English Coursework: Poetry Comparison The War Poems of Wilfred Owen, 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases' The poems I have chosen to compare are the two I found the most powerful, these poems made me feel the emotions and situations that Owen was describing. Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 and died in 1918, just a week before the end of the First World War - the news of which reached his parents on the day of the armistice. His poetry is well known throughout the English speaking world, he is especially well known for the poetry he wrote towards the later years of the First World War. Both of these poems seem to hold an underlying anti-war message, we can see this in the numerous references to the terrible waste of war. ...read more.

Middle

One of the ways that the poems differ is, whereas 'Disabled' deals with loss of physical faculties, 'Mental Cases' deals with the loss of mental faculties - as their respective names obviously make out to describe. This difference in subject, directly affects the tone of the poem. In 'Disabled' the focus in on one individual, and the effects of losing physical faculties on their life - this makes 'Disabled' more "human" in feel than 'Mental Cases'. In 'Disabled' we see; 'spurted from his thigh', a very sexual sounding line, though replacing semen with blood, and also, '...he will never feel again how slim Girl's waists are...', a very personal and human feeling, again relating to sex - making it human. 'Mental Cases' deals with a group, and not even necessarily a group of people, but a disease. ...read more.

Conclusion

A possible purpose of this poem is to make us realise that these people are human, and that it is not of their own faults that they are in the states they are in. By extenuating the emphasis on how awful these people are, in such lines as; '...their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains...', and 'Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked', the purpose may be to make them worse than reality so as to subject the reader to a sense of something like guilt. So in conclusion, although, on a broader plane, the two poems deal with similar subject matter - on closer analysis we discover that their respective purposes and language provoke two quite different human emotions, one of understanding and therefor empathy, and one of repulse - then replaced by our now natural response to repulse, to change or improve the subject whom is repulsive in someway. ...read more.

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