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Compare and contrast the fictional letters in 'Birdsong' with the real letters written to Vera Brittain by Edward Brittain and Roland Leighton. Which do you find more moving and powerful and why?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the fictional letters in ‘Birdsong’ with the real letters written to Vera Brittain by Edward Brittain and Roland Leighton. Which do you find more moving and powerful and why?

The letters sent in the war were one of the most important ways of communicating with loved ones. A stereotypical view would be that letters would seem quite heart-felt and filled with detailed descriptions of the reality thrown at the soldiers. However in reality the emotion doesn’t come across frequently. In ‘Birdsong,’ Faulks picks out key elements to format emotive letters. The tone of each letter varies, but a general positive attitude comes across through the letters, with the exception of ‘Stephen’s’ letter. The tone in ‘E.Brittain’s’ and ‘Leighton’s’ letters did not make much of an impression; it was a detailed account of their normality in the war. Their viewpoint of the war did not seem to emerge. Both letters consists of war jargon and formal language which prevents their true feelings to be empathised with, making their letters less moving than ‘Faulk’s’ fictional letters.

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Middle

The letters written by ‘Leighton’ were all informative but there is a lack of attention on how he was feeling. His letters were quite self contained, he only ever showed any feelings at the end of his letters. “Yours always”, “…much love. I have been kissing your photograph.” This can be compared to ‘Weir’s’ letter in ‘Birdsong.’ Again his letter was self-contained, and quite formal. He ends his letter with: “From your son Michael.” This doesn’t show much emotion, however it is a sub-consciously touching. ‘Stephen’s’ tone in his letter is quite bitter but comes across as a realistic feeling, considering as readers this is really what we expect the character to feel. The others are calmer and seem happy which does not seem normal for a soldier who is going to be facing death. Although, by the tone of their goodbyes, it appears that they are aware of what their fate maybe, which makes the letters a bit more realistic. The real letters from ‘Leighton’ are quite long in detail of the events, which perhaps could have been inspiration to ‘Faulks.

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Conclusion

The fiction letters have carefully been created to drawn attention from the reader and bring them into the different worlds of those individual soldiers. The letters weren’t just an escape for the characters, but for the readers as well. As the readers, we are constantly reading about the battles, and by reading the normality of the soldiers back home can drive us away from the detail of war and refresh our imaginations. This is how the fictional letters are more powerful and moving. The real letters are purely a description of the events that occurred which is something the reader would not want to constantly read about, because there is the possibility the reader may get bored despite the fact it is a first hand account of the war. As the reader we expect more emotion in a horrendous situation like the war, which is why we give into the fictional letters considering it suit our expectations.

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