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Englishh Essay

4265 words - 18 pages

Explore the ways in which the three texts present the suffering of soldiers in the war.

World War One is known as “the war to end all wars”[1]. The war cultured “extreme suffering” which inspired many writers. The war also aided the advancement of attitudes towards the emotionality of men. Individual suffering is manipulated to intensify the pain by isolating singular characters. Sacrifices of the men force the reader into an uncomfortable atmosphere. Sebastian Faulks’ Bildungsroman Birdsong highlights the suffering of individual to understate that of the masses. Regeneration, written by Pat Barker in 1991, uses factual occurrences of Sassoon and Owen’s lives in Craiglockhart to detail ...view middle of the document...

The distortion of time explores the disruption of perceptions and hopelessness caused by trauma. Similarly, Faulks separates sections of Birdsong in eras to emphasize the disruption of time for soldiers. Faulks disrupts the time flow by segregating modern and historical versions of suffering which differentiates reality of ordeals for the readers. Contrastingly Sassoon’s poem ‘Does it Matter’ subverts the traumatic physical injuries through a patronizing and sarcastic narrator. The narrator subtly criticizes the stigmatization of men who don’t fight as cowards. Regeneration stigmatizes physical trauma as unsightly, “not at the front of the hospital where their mutilations might have been seen by passers-by”[4]. Sarah Lumb is “unable to go forward” [5] through the shock of the disabled soldiers. This paralysis is microcosmic of the historical reaction to war mutilation. Readers sympathize with Sarah Lumb as she describes the disabled soldier’s hollow eyes with: “if it contained anything at all it was fear”[6], causing shock through the absence of normality. The exposure of the soldier causes disgust as the jingoistic propaganda distorts the perception of soldiers after war. Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ attacks war propaganda using distorted iambic pentameter creating unease within the poem symbolizing the distorted stigmatized meaning of war for the soldiers. The subversion of the traditional sonnet develops hatred towards the war for the reader as typically sonnets symbolise affection. Language and structural changes expose the aim to incite the reader’s anger and initiate against the “prolonged war”[7]. The texts reveal that stigmatization of disability causes “extreme suffering”[8] on an individual basis as soldiers are pre-conceived as monsters through their mutilation.
The ignorance of all those observing the war is acknowledged as imposing the suffering upon soldiers. Feminist critics believe the emphasis of female ignorance is unjust since patriarchal society blinded women through forcing male agendas upon them, to encourage the continuous supply of soldiers. This interpretation reflects historical attitudes towards women as they disregarded in the minds of men. Similarly, Birdsong intensifies the ignorance towards disability through Elizabeth’s visit to Brennan. Elizabeth wishes to “restore poor Brennan’s life or take away the pity of the past,”[9] yet is ignorant to his history, Elizabeth microcosmically represents women’s naivety to the war. The ambiguity of Brennan’s speech represents different perspectives influenced by misunderstanding which cultured ignorant opinions as others were rejected. Misinterpretation of Brennan’s speech creates dramatic irony as the reader can understand his language due to prior reading. Faulks creates “no patronizing pretentions to understanding what trench life was truly like”[10] through the omniscient narrator who doesn’t force direct assumptions upon the reader, instead offers understanding...

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