"Compare and contrast the poems 'Dulce et Decorumest' by Wilfred Owen and 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke, onthe theme of war".

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“Compare and contrast the poems ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke, on the theme of war”.

 In this assignment I will try to show the different ways in which each poet viewed his own war experiences and how it was shared through their poetry. The poems are very different and it is necessary to know a little about each author in order to understand why the poetic styles are so different.

Many things can shape how people view the same event, social background, class, education, and associates are among the influences that can alter a person’s view. In the case of Owen and Brooke, all these things and more seem to have affected how each man chose to portray events and experiences of the First World War.

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was born in 1893 in Oswestry, Shropshire. He was educated Birkenhead Institute and Shrewsbury Technical College. From an early age he had a passion for poetry and he counted Keats and Shelley among his early influences. From 1913 to 1915 he was a language tutor in France, he had no great desire to join the army, but did so on 21st October 1915 because of peer pressure and propaganda. The moral pressure to enlist was intense; slogans such as ‘Are YOU in this?’ ‘Fight for Freedom with the Strength of Free Men’ and a badly misused quote from Shakespeare “Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once” – Shakespeare Macbeth 3.4 – Enlist Now!” Hibberd (1990, p1) It was against this backdrop that Owen joined the Second Manchesters. Owen saw a terrific amount of front line action and was awarded the military cross for gallantry. In May 1917, he developed shell shock and was returned to England for treatment. While receiving treatment at Craiglockhart War Hospital, Owen met Sigfried Sassoon, this proved to be a memorable friendship and Owen wrote all of his major poetry after this period. Owen returned to the Manchesters in August 1918 and was killed on the 4th November. Seven days later the war was over.

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Rupert Chawner Brooke was born at Rugby in 1887 and educated at Rugby School and King’s College Cambridge. He worked with Edward Marsh on the first ‘Georgian Anthology’, a collection of poetry that was considered ‘realistic’ and bringing new ‘strength and beauty’ to poetry. It has since been described as ‘insular’, unimaginative’ and ‘often concerned with the pleasant aspects of England, unaware of or indifferent to realities’ Roberts (1998,p390). Brooke travelled for a time in Germany, and following a nervous breakdown, went on an extended tour taking in Canada, America Fiji, New Zealand and Tahiti. On his return to ...

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