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Compare and contrast the ways in which Owen and Auden present the alienation of the speakers in "Refugee Blues" and "Disabled"

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the ways in which Owen and Auden present the alienation of the speakers in ?Refugee Blues? and ?Disabled? James Kim Owen and Auden both war poets explore the sense of alienation, which was brought about by war. Owen takes on the theme of exclusion in ?Disabled? by converting a fine and healthy young individual into a physically disabled soldier of World War I. He faces alienation from a non-handicapped society, as he no longer has the charm of the past. Auden?s ?Refugee Blues? is also based on alienation but is more about the excluded human races that were stripped from their human rights in World War II. By basing the poems on past events in history, the readers feel a sense of helplessness, incapability to help, and sympathy for the excluded individuals as both poems strike a poignant chord with the readers. Each poet uses very distinct techniques to carry out the same theme of alienation. In ?Disabled?, Owen portrays a picture of a man being alienated because of his disability. Having physical disabilities downgrades one?s masculinity and self-esteem and the soldier in the poem seems to be suffering in paranoia as he envies and constantly looks upon the ?strong men that were whole?. He has lost all his self-confidence because he is physically incapable of carrying out actions, which normal people can do. He notices how the women ?touch him like some queer disease?. ...read more.

Middle

In ?Disabled?, the theme of isolation is conveyed through the emphasis on regret. The ex-soldier is regretting his decision to join the war. The irony lies upon the fact that he himself was the one who actually lied about his age to become a soldier on the frontlines. ?He asked to join. He didn?t have to beg; Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years,? The fact that the recruitment officials allowed the innocent teenager to ?throw away his legs? and scar his own youth injects pathos into the readers. Owen is desperate to prove how detrimental war is in terms of bringing pain and hardship to everyone. Therefore, Owen is also promoting the peace, forgotten through war, similarly to Auden by writing war poems. However, Owen and Auden express alienation by displaying very different emotions and perspectives from each other. ?Disabled? takes a form of third person narrative that displays a clear sense of extreme loss of human dignity. The narrator pictures an isolated man ?waiting for dark?. The man?s life now lacks exuberance and he has a lot of time to fantasise or recall past exhilarating memories while he pities how helpless he has become. ?Now, he will spend a few sick years inn institutes And do whatever the rules consider wise? War has turned him into a helpless and lonely individual who is always dependent upon others due to his physical disabilities. The fact that the poem was written in third person helps show the sense of loneliness. ...read more.

Conclusion

Imagery helps create a visual image for readers who may not have experienced war. ?The brutality and abomination of war is the image depicted by the detailed and descriptive adjectives and adverbs in the poems. For instance, in ?Disabled?, the visual image of the ex-soldier through colours is essential: ?He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark, And shivered in his ghastly suit of gray? Detailed mentioning of colours to describe the man?s current status portrays the gloomy mood. Owen also creates a much more gratifying and pleasurable image of the disabled man?s youth: ?When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim? The readers can see how the bright and light colours of the man?s youth was gradually shaded into the dark and gloomy colours of the man?s current status and his possible future. How influential is war? How much of an impact can war have on individuals? According to Owen and Auden, all that war results in is disgust and alienation. ?Disabled? and ?Refugee Blues? are set on two very different historical backgrounds: World War I and World War II respectively. They both consist of different themes and perspectives. However, both poems still manage to reach the same conclusion of war being a monstrous and atrocious thing and that it has been the cause of many cases of alienation in society. Many can see wars? brighter sides such as bravery, heroism, and patriotism but how many can actually see the harsh reality of war and the immense sense of alienation it leaves behind that traumatises certain individuals in today?s society? ...read more.

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