Analysis on Exposure Poem

9 September 2016

It portrays the message of the real enemy of the soldiers being the cold and icy conditions. Moreover, it provides us with a lively description of the persistent cold and awful conditions during one of the worst winters in the first world war. It shows that most of the soldiers were exposed rather than shot by enemies. The poem portrays all the opposing facts to make young men not join the war as it is nothing heroic. Owen uses all his senses to describe the frosty atmosphere and sets a lamenting and descriptive tone.

The rhyme scheme is ABBA and the stanzas are continuous, emphasizing the continuous suffering of the British. It is written in first person plural, which makes us feel with the soldiers and put ourselves into their position. Exposure transports the reader into the pitiless trench warfare of the First World. It allows the reader to share the experience of having all vestiges of shelter removed, stripped back to the nakedness and feebleness of the human body against the wintry savagery of a snow storm in the dark, at the point of death.

Analysis on Exposure Poem Essay Example

It starts by setting the scene of tired soldiers being ‘knived’ by the wind, too worried to sleep because of the unnatural silence. “Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous, But nothing happens. ” The sibilance of the repeated ‘s’ sound creates the effect of whispering, an attempt to not draw the attention of the enemy, who are futilely using flares to see what is going on. The trenches were protected by rolls of barbed wire, the barbs snagging the clothing and skin of any person trying to manoeuvre through it, delaying their passage and increasing the chances of being shot.

Then allowing their comrades to witness their dying agony held up twitching on the wire. Owen uses a simile with naturally occurring brambles. The war continues in the distance but the silence and inactivity in the bitter cold makes it all sound unreal, as dawn brings more snow laden clouds into view. “Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence. ” Has the battle started again? It is compared as less ‘deathly’ than the snow. Are the men staring so hard that they can no longer actually see and their mind accept what is happening.

Is this the approach of death, where exposure to the winter cold is so close that a bullet seems less probable? The next lines are a reflection on the comforts of home, but only seen through the chinks in the shutters. The hopelessness of not being allowed into the warmth by the repeated use of closed; “Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed,” The minds of the dying men are driven back to the battlefield because of the fear that if the enemy isn’t conquered that there will never be fires burning in the hearths of home again.

He mentions children enjoying the sunshine, another reason that the war is for a just cause, to give security to the generations to come. The final part of the poem relates how the dead bodies will be found frozen with the mud by those designated to handle and remove bodies. Owen describes the unpleasant reality of fulfilling this last duty for comrades, some acquaintances, in these terrible conditions and the numbness of emotions that it would cause.

Nature is used throughout the poem, its effect on the body, the coldness of the wind and snow; the fussing of the blackbird, in contrast to the stillness and the silence of the dawn; the innocence of the mice freely enjoying the warmth and comfort of the empty home, while the soldier is away. The exposure is not only to the cruelty of war, but also experiencing the cruelty of nature. How does ‘Exposure’ by Wilfred Owen tackle the Theme of War? ‘Exposure’ is a war poem written by Wilfred Owen in 1917 which describes how it felt like to be a soldier fighting war in the winter season.

Owen focuses on the weather and shows how they are suffering more from the cold than getting wounded and hurt from the enemy which is not typical in war poetry. He has used a lot of figurative language and literary techniques to portray the cold and the soldiers’ feelings. Firstly, Owen applies figurative language like personification to describe the cold in the first stanza, where he says: ‘Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knife us…’ This line explains how the winds are so cold and strong that it feels like it is cutting the soldiers.

It is like the wind is slowly killing them by stabbing them to death. Owen has also said the winds are merciless showing the wind isn’t showing any pity for the soldiers which is quite similar to the enemy’s attitude towards them. The use of personifying the icy winds creates a sense of suffering towards the soldiers. Furthermore this line of the poem has used a lot of ‘i’ sounds like in ‘brains’, ‘merciless’, ‘iced’, ‘winds’ and ‘knife’ and this ‘i’ sound produces a sharp sound which, relating to an earlier point, reinforces the sharpness of the ‘knives’ and how painful the wind was.

The assonance applied here has enhanced and has exaggerated the pain for readers to understand. A different way Owen attempts to show the theme of war is in the second part of the poem where many soldiers have died from the cold. Owen writes ‘The burying-party, picks and shovels in their shaking grasp’ which shows that although the soldiers are very tired and cold they still are willing to bury their unfortunate friends who have frozen to death. This line from the poem possibly suggests that the ‘burying party’ are angry and fed up of seeing soldiers dying because of war as Owen has used plosives like ‘burying’, ‘picks’ and…

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