Compare "The Soldier" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" under the criteria of purpose, ideas, feelings, tone, techniques, and form.

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                                                                        Hisham Hasan

                                        18th November 2001

Compare “The Soldier” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth” under the criteria of purpose, ideas, feelings, tone, techniques, and form.

Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen are the respective poets of ‘The Soldier’ and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. Both the poems were written during the era of the Great War, but ‘The Soldier’ was a poem of the War’s early part, while ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ was an ode and witness of the 2nd phase (1917 onwards) of the Great War epoch.


Purpose and intentions are clearly visible in both the poems. For instance, the poems’ titles themselves attempt to illustrate the purpose and aims of the poets. The varied intentions of Brooke and Owen are apparent as ‘The Soldier’ reminds us of a heroic soldier, while ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ of the dead soldier. Owen creates a gloomy atmosphere by using ‘Anthem’ and ‘doomed’. The subjects of the poems differ as Brooke accounts to us of soldiers leaving home for war and sacrificing their lives for England. However, Owen’s subject and entire poem is concerned with the death of youth at war. In other words, Owen’s purpose can be stated as discouraging youth to choose war, while Brooke tries to persuade youth to go to war.

Owen wants to prove the audience that death at war causes obstacles, hardships and is ‘dementful’ from the point of view of sufferers: defenceless women and children. ‘The pallor of girl’s brows shall be their pall.’ All hopes have diminished after the tragic death of a soldier. The reader receives a strike when Owen portrays the soldier has not only destructed his own life, but also pulled ‘girls to his grave’. The devastating effect of war is brought out here. These views are in conflict with Brooke, who does not protest the floating, un-ending state and uselessness of war and, unlike Owen does not analyse the ideas and feelings of havoc caused by death and the suffering of families after the news of a soldier’s death reaches them. Brooke, in contrast, paints this loss as a loss of a guardian and saviour to England. This variation is probably because Brooke wrote during the earlier part of the Great War, while Owen’s attention and emphasis is mostly placed on individual lives and deaths. Owen seems to have loved life more than England, whereas Brooke was very patriotic and viewed the whole nation as a personal life which is depicted here: ‘If I should die…some corner of a foreign field forever England’. The soldier here is comparing his eventual death as to become part of the English soil.

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Brooke’s idealistic and heroic ideas could be seen as his technique to encourage the English youth to join the war, while Owen’s gloomy atmosphere attempts to warn youth against joining war, and communicate the real essence of war, from his beliefs, to the audience.

Ideas, Feelings, and Tones

Anthem for Doomed Youth” expresses a hopeless and disillusioned tone linked to the uselessness of war. Probably, Owen felt, fighting in the war, his end was not too far. “And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds”. ‘Slow’ obviously portrays the impatient need for something to happen as deadlock ...

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