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Compare the ways in which Wilfred Owen portrays the extreme situations which the soldiers experience in the poems Exposure and Spring Offensive poems.

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Introduction

Compare the ways in which Wilfred Owen portrays the extreme situations which the soldiers experience in the poems 'Exposure' and 'Spring Offensive' Wilfred Owen was a soldier during World War 1. He had first-hand experience in the worst warfare known to man. Exposure and Spring Offensive help to portray these extreme situations. They do this very well due to the fact that Owen had first-hand experience and that his precise use of language techniques help bring out the real circumstances as he saw them. To begin with, the poem 'Exposure' is based on the experiences of soldiers in the trenches. We are taken through the day in chronological order, from early morning, to dawn and then to night again. Set in first person, we see and experience the world through the soldiers. This full sensory experience entails the vivid description that helps bring the world to life. One of the first things we are aware of is the extreme cold. The setting is presumably in deep winter as we experience 'iced east winds' and 'sidelong flowing flakes'. Throughout the poem there is mostly quietness, with occasional references to noise, such as when bullets 'streak the silence'. This dull atmosphere indicated by the silence is again shown when the arrival of dawn is described as being 'poignant' and 'melancholy', showing the reader how there is a sense of sadness in almost every aspect of the soldiers' lives. ...read more.

Middle

This makes us think that the winds are heartless, forever attacking, showing no sense of relent, and how 'we' are suffering helplessly against it. In Spring Offensive, Owen uses personification in the surroundings. In this case, it is used to make the poem livelier by making the trees breathe, or brambles 'clutch and cling to them'. This helps to add emotion as well as everything is alive and has feelings. In the later part of the poem, during the battle, personification adds to the dangerous atmosphere, talking about how 'earth set sudden cups in thousands for their blood'. This makes it seem that everything is dangerous and bloodthirsty, quite contrasting to the first half in which personification gave the impression of life as opposed to death. Both poems involve lots of emotive and powerful words. These include words such as 'shudders' (exposure) or 'oozed' (Spring Offensive). Throughout Exposure, there are equal amounts of emotive words and adjectives, such as 'merciless' or 'drooping'. These detailed words help the reader picture the grim situation better as they are specific and descriptive. There is also lots of doubling of adjectives. This technique helps emphasize the noun, such as when the wind is described as 'merciless' and 'iced', clearly enforcing wind as the heartless enemy. ...read more.

Conclusion

After the men stop dreaming in Exposure, there is an intense feeling of fatalism as the men 'turn back to their dying' accepting this grim fate, and also a feeling of loss of faith as they doubt God's existence. This contrasts with the start of the poem, where it merely involved the men sitting around. In spring offensive, the feelings are more intense as Owen uses stronger language to describe it. This is evident when he refers to how the slope 'chasmed and deepened sheer', with 'surfs of bullets' and immemorial shames. These intend to give a heightened sense of tension and confusion. In the last stanza, there is also a feeling of inhuman cruelty as the men attack with 'superhuman inhumanities'. This then transforms to a feeling of shame and a bitter legacy as the men are disturbed by their horrific experiences and so are unwilling to recall events, as revealed by Owen asking the question 'why speak not they of comrades that went under?'. There is a repeating sense of futility in Exposure, as the men 'turn back to their dying', having given up in the war. The men are also portrayed as weak and helpless as they 'cringe in holes' against the 'deathly' weather. In Spring Offensive, the men are given a more heroic role, as they are actively involved in the fighting for the freedom of the country. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jagan Annamaraju ...read more.

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