Owens first hand experience in front line combat during WWI gave him a unique position in which to gain a negative and unromanticized view of the atrocities and horror of war, contrary to the patriotic propaganda used to encourage young men to enlist. Firstly, that war robs men of human dignity in death and its consequences are only lost, without any gains therefore the idea of being futile. Both “anthem for doomed youth” and “futility” graphically and painfully articulate these notions through the use of rhetorical questions, juxtaposition, symbolism and aural imagery in “Anthem for doomed youth” and symbolism, rhetorical questions and use of present tense in “futility.”

The rhetorical question “what passing bells for these who die as cattle,”Highlights the demoralisation which was placed on the soldiers and how their deaths are compared to cattle , indicating the lack of humanity and dignity in their deaths while pointing to the large scale of death. Juxtaposition of sonnet form, “shrill,demented, choirs of wailing shells” illustrates the chaotic subject matter of the poem with the ordered structure of a sonnet to further demonstrate the chaos of war and the suffering which the soldiers have undergone, which ultimately leads to their own death on the battlefront. Symbolism and aural imagery “Drawing down of blinds” is demonstrated through the sestet, Owen creates the aural image of a church bell ringing through the use of monosyllabic words and the elongated vowel sounds “Eyes, shine, pall,” this provides a harsh contrast to the tragic war sounds in the octet and reflects the mournful tone which draws pity from the audience through the final line, “Drawing down of blinds.” the symbolic drawing down of the line allows the audience to reflect on the death of the soldiers and the impact it had on their families at home. The paradox “Doomed Youth” suggests that the ultimate tragedy of the war, was the inevitable death of the young men, creating a sense of pity as the audience are able to connect to the young age of the soldiers to feel as though because the soldiers were so young, they had a whole life before themselves and that was taken away by the horrific war whilst they were continuously suffering at war. Therefore…

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The poem “Futility” explores the emotions of pity and hopelessness that men feel in this situation, not being able to save a fellow soldier. The nameless young man who dies in this poem is representative of all those who die needlessly in war. The fourth and fifth lines the sun and snow are compared and contrasted with each other, “always it a woke him, even in France, until this morning and this snow.” The sun symbolises the warmth of life and the snow symbolises the coldness of death. The word morning has two different meanings. One is the everyday morning, which is the beginning of the day and the second meaning referring to the word mourning. Owen is mourning for the man who has died. Rhetorical questions show the speaker’s confusion as he tries to find some explanation for such a pointless death, “Was it for this the clay grew tall?” A poignant, ironic tone is used in this plea for readers to comprehend such loss. He stresses that such a youthful life has been totally wasted. The soldier’s attempts at revival have proved utterly useless and they are forced to concede defeat. The rhetorical questions used show the sense of futility and emptiness for both the man who dies and his friends who tried so fruitlessly to save him. The use of present tense terms such as “Think how it wakes the seeds” and instructional language like “Move him into the sun” which is used to open both stanza’s, gives dramatic immediacy that engages the reader. This use of instructional language evokes emotion, which emphasizes the hopelessness that a person can feel. Like the title, the thematic concern with the devastating waste of war exemplifies owens didactic purpose to expose an unromanticized version of combat to a wider audience, exposing it for the horrific and futile exercise that it is.

Owens first hand experience in front line combat during WWI gave him a unique position in which to gain a negative and unromanticized view of the atrocities and horror of war, contrary to the patriotic propaganda used to encourage young men to enlist. Firstly, that war robs men of human dignity in death and its consequences are only lost, without any gains therefore the idea of being futile. Both “anthem for doomed youth” and “futility” graphically and painfully articulate these notions through the use of rhetorical questions, juxtaposition, symbolism and aural imagery in “Anthem for doomed youth” and symbolism, rhetorical questions and use of present tense in “futility.”