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Wilfred Owen : Futility

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Introduction

Wilfred Owen : Futility Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, one of the many Great War poets during World War I, was born on March 18 at Osweshy, Shropshire, on the Welsh border. Son of Tom and Susan Owen, who were Welsh ancestry, Wilfred was the eldest of four sons. His education began at the Birkenhead Institute, and then continued at the Technical School in Shrewsbury when the family was forced to move there in 1906 after his father was appointed Assistant Superintendent for the Western Region of the railways. Given his low-middle-class upbringing, at a young age Wilfred showed neither love, nor the ability to write poetry. He found little interest in cotemporary poems and other sorts of literature. After failing to be admitted to the University of London, Wilfred decided to become a clergyman. In 1911, he moved to Dunsden and was taught by the local Vicar, for unpaid work in the parish, an act Wilfred did to please his extremely religious mother. During that time, he created a strong allegiance to literature. After some time, Wilfred started to become increasingly disapproving of the role of the church in society, and sympathetic to the plight of the poor, so he decided to leave the vicarage for home. ...read more.

Middle

At that time, Owen categorized his poem and Futility came under the heading "Grief". Owen used half-rhyme (pairing words which do not quite rhyme), which gave this poem a dissonant, disturbing quality that amplifies his themes. In Futility, Owen questions the pointlessness of war. Owen shows the reader the physical horrors of war very effectively yet his poems stretch beyond that and delve into the unspoken shames where life itself is questioned. The death of the soldier in this poem is just a starting point for Owens universal questioning of the pointlessness of war. Instead of using visual images of horror in this poem, which he is known for, Owen conjures feelings within the reader that often are more horrific. The tone of this poem is very light. The words "gently its touch", "whispering of fields" and "rouse" create an airy atmospheric mood. There almost seems to be a hint of hope in the first seven lines. But again, a new dimension is added after the caesura. The ongoing theme is light, and death: "Move him into the sun", "fatuous sunbeams toil." In Futility, Owen describes the world as a peaceful place until war broke out. His description of peace is indirectly stated in this poem, but his main focus was to show the reader what the feelings of soldiers are. ...read more.

Conclusion

A young soldier is trying to save his friend by moving him into the sun, and questions why the sun or greater being can't bring his friend back to life. If they can't bring the innocent back to life then why bother creating it in the beginning if all that happens is destruction. Symbols in this poem are an integral part. "Fields unsown", show future opportunities and experiences that are still to be had, but which now lay at rest, along with the young man, because of the war. Owen clearly shows his thoughts of the meaning of life and the necessity of war in the line, "O what made fatuous sunbeams toil, to break earth's sleep at all?" In war there is the horror and there is the pity. Owen offers the reader so much more than the insight into the horrors of war by showing the pity. With this the reader empathizes with the speaker therefore becoming involved. In the poem Futility, Owen clearly stated that his belief on war to be pointless, as all it does is destroying life created. Hence, Owen questioned the creation of life at first, if all that happens in the end is destruction. Ironically, even though he believes that war shouldn't take place in the first place, Owen still presents the soldiers in the war as heroes who protect their country and citizens. Stanley Sy Brit. Lit. 1-3 March 11, 2003 1 ...read more.

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