A critical appreciation of the poem 'Exposure'

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A critical appreciation of the poem ‘Exposure’

I believe in Wilfred Owens’ poem ‘Exposure’, there are many different purposes, and an equal number of methods, which he employs to achieve them. Throughout the poem, he uses a variety of different techniques but I think there are several which are most successful.

The first and foremost approach Owen has used is that of the title, ‘Exposure’. Exposure means to ‘Lay open to the weather’; it suggests being uncomfortable, and susceptible to the weather, typically in a less than desirable situation. In this poem, it is the weather that torments the soldiers most, and so this title is appropriate. This title is also clever and evocative, because it causes the reader to think about the contents of the poem before having read it.

I consider the reference to nature, in particular, to be very important and effective. It is expressed clearly, in a physical sense, in the first line of the first stanza, although Owen does continue this use throughout the poem.

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       ‘Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us…’

This line shows the ‘merciless’/evil wind, nature, to have premeditated causing a pain to the soldiers. This, and that the wind causes a physical pain, ‘ache’, to the soldiers personifies the weather.

The diction in this line, for example, the repetition of s sounds, called sibilance, represents the sound of the wind. It can be associated to hissing sounds, which we relate to a cat in anger and fright. This again personifies the wind and is in correlation with the soldiers feelings.


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