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Compare and contrast the ways in which Owen and Sassoon present images of suffering and death in 'Exposure' and 'The Hero'.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the ways in which Owen and Sassoon present images of suffering and death in 'Exposure' and 'The Hero'. Owen and Sassoon are both famous poets, who wrote their poems during and about the First World War. Wilfred Owen was very descriptive poet, who wrote in great details about all that he saw, using much poetic and flowing language. Siegfried Sassoon however was very cynical about the people running the war, and could not see a point in all the death going on all around. However, they both fought in the war and since they should have many experiences of war in common, their poems should surely have very common themes and views, and those should be typical of the time. However, after examining the poems closely, one can determine that there are a great amount of differences between the two poems. In 'Exposure', Owen uses much descriptive language to allow the reader to perfectly understand and almost feel the suffering that is going on in this war. He describes the wind as 'iced' and 'knifing', which in itself would be painful; he personifies the wind to a point, because it is stabbing him, and only humans can do that. The suffering and pain that is going on will not and cannot stop, since in the distance, 'incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles'. ...read more.

Middle

She tails off involuntarily, and is obviously 'choked' and so overpowered by her grief that she cannot continue talking. This section of the poem describes her grief very delicately, like how Owen describes the elements of nature very carefully in 'Exposure'. However, once we get to the third stanza, we find out the main truth of what happened to Jack, and the poem suddenly becomes very critical of authority, and it also becomes generally callous overall. Normally, one does not insult the memory of the dead, but here, the Brother Officer thinks about Jack in blunt terms; not softening the memory of his death at all, but just casually thinking what he thought at the time. The way he calls Jack a 'useless swine' demonstrates this perfectly, 'swine' highlighting how low his opinion was of Jack whilst he was still alive. He also calls him, although not out loud, 'cold-footed', showing how cowardly he was. Perhaps the insults were because Jack could simply not stand the suffering in the trenches... however, since the Brother Officer doesn't think like that, the reader is still exposed to his criticism. This is completely unlike how Owen describes suffering, with great detail and much description; Sassoon just goes straight to the point. In both poems, there are also many mentions of death as a theme, and death is so final, that surely there should be only one way to describe it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, part of the very final line is the most haunting of all: 'all their eyes are ice', describing the burying-party, people who are still living, but yet are almost dead at the same time. Sassoon on the other hand in this case gives neither any dignity to the dead, nor to the Brother Officer who holds no respect for Jack. The way that Sassoon describes his death is very short, blunt and straight to the point: 'Blown to small bits'. No mention of him even being human once, no long descriptive words; instead he is almost de-personified by the bluntness and the lack of caring that is shown to his death by anyone except his mother. Apathy seems to be a common theme here with 'Exposure', since the burying-party do not show much respect towards these dead, because they have seen so many. They no longer care about the matter of death, and neither does the Brother Officer. The fact that only Jack's mother cares about his death is quite poignant, and it does give a sense that there were so many casualties that people became immune to feeling suffering about death after a while. There are few similarities between these poems, but many differences. This is unexpected, since both poems are written at the same time about the same war, yet ultimately it is the personality and personal views of the author that influences what is written about. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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