How Do Both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon Show Their Dislike Toward the War in Their Poems?
Their shocking, realistic War poetry on the horrors of the trench and gas warfare ended in them being institutionalized for their beliefs. Firstly, Siegfried Sassoon will be analysed in Base Details and explore how he exploits the War in his poem. Base details is based upon Sassoon enlightening the readers of the truth about the Majors in the War and what they were really like.
Sassoon includes himself into the poem to portray to the reader how if he were a Major, how his attitude would differ, ‘If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath. ’ This beginning line strongly indicates to the audience Sassoon himself is imagining he was one of the Majors during the war. Cleverly, Sassoon is here ridiculing the Majors by merely calling them old, overweight and that they were bullies. Straight away the reader feels a sense of Sassoon is going to tell the truth in this poem and speak out for what he believes in.
The structure of the poem is very simple and set out in two stanzas with ten syllables on each line. This gives the rhythm of the poem to flow and symbolize a nursery rhyme. Language in poems indicates to the reader the tone and authority of the poem. Sassoon, throughout the whole poem uses childlike language that represents a nursery rhyme cadence. ‘…Last scrap’ this quotation shows how the majors think of the War to be a game and that it meaning to them. Sassoon purposely uses the reference of ‘scrap’ to present to the reader that the war was meaningless to the Majors and how they did not see the true horror the War caused.
By using the alliteration of ‘puffy petulant’ it demonstrates the plosives used of the ‘P’ sound; which strongly indicates the annoyance in Sassoon’s tone toward the Majors and wider, to the War. To continue, Sassoon uses plosives and childlike language to portray the Majors in an appalling light, as we the audience know and understand how dreadful the war was. There are many stylistic devices that prove of Sassoon’s dislike toward the War. ‘…And speed glum heroes up the line to death’ this powerful quotation consists of an oxymoron.
It shows how the Majors would quickly rush the heroes over the trench; only for them to be killed. Alliteration provides the constant remembrance of certain words; ‘…Guzzling and Gulping in the best hotel’ Sassoon explains here how during the soldiers being killed and seriously injured by the War, the Majors would be rudely eating and drinking in a repulsive manner. The expression of ‘gulping’ could also be a dual meaning of gulping their guilt away and hiding their remorse through the metaphorical state of enjoying themselves.
Throughout the whole poem, Sassoon uses deep meanings behind his poems to portray his dislike toward the War, ‘I’d live with scarlet majors at the Base’ The use of scarlet represents the British troops uniform of what Sassoon would be wearing, but also the emblematic meaning of blood and death. Conversely, the title itself gives the reader an indication of the poem, ‘Base Details’ is a dual meaning of Army details and also ‘Base’ symbolizes the basic and blunt truth Sassoon is going to tell the reader about the war. Base Details has strong imagery throughout.
The strongest imagery is of bald, old Majors in the finest hotel greedily eating whilst the soldiers are dying for their country. ‘Poor young chap I’d say’ This line represents the anger Sassoon felt toward the War by selecting ‘Young’ as it illustrates how young the soldiers were during the War. Siegfried Sassoon is trying to achieve impact on the reader. He explains all the true horrors of the War and is blunt and too the point about it in his Poem. He sees the war for what is really is and depicts the Majors to be oblivious and ignorant toward the War.
The Majors see the War as a game with ‘scrap’ ‘youth’ and ‘toddle’ being frequently used by Sassoon. Sassoon constantly shows his dislike toward the War, through the Majors. Wilfred Owen presents his dislike toward the War in a different way than Sassoon, in his poem, Dulce et Decorum Est. This poem is an autobiographical poem based upon Owen’s own experience of the War. He reincarnates a haunting memory of a gas attack that killed one of the soldiers and agonizingly relives the memory through his poem. Unlike Base Details, Dulce et Decorum Est. as three large stanzas with assonance that gives the internal rhythm of soldiers marching. Conversely, similar to Sassoon, Owen presents his dislike of the War through language. Owen uses Pathos; which makes the reader feel empathy and remorse to what he is saying. The constant plosive sounds represent also throughout the poem, ‘Knock Kneed…
Coughing, cursed’ it gives the reader again a similiarity of a harsh and fed up tone of Owens dislike toward the War. The tense is in past as it is a past experience, however, at the start of the second stanza, ‘Gas! Gas! the dialogue changes here to present tense. Owen created this shift in tense as he has vividly stepped into his memory and the specific event of activeness is clear in his thoughts. In the first stanza, Owen sets the scene and contradicts the reader into believing the troops were returning from battle, ‘Bent double like old beggars under sacks’ this beginning line is a simile and strongly shows the tiredness of the soldiers and their imagery of looking like beggars. ‘Drunk with fatigue’ this brilliant line shows how exhausted the soldiers were they were drunk with it.
The second stanza is active and contains a lot of stylistic devices that show Owen’s hatred toward the War. ‘As under a green sea, I saw him drowning’ this metaphor shows Owen’s traumatic visual of the soldier being ‘drowned’ in a ‘sea’ of a gas attack. It gives the realisation of how traumatic Owen’s past experience is to the reader and his dislike of the War. Similar to Base Details, Owen and Sassoon both present themselves in the poem. ‘In all my dreams before my helpless sight, he plunges at me guttering, chocking, drowning. This central image of Owen’s dream shows that the War has left a scar upon him and the magic 3 of ‘guttering , choking, drowning’ create the plosives and assonance of the dying soldiers despair. Owen addresses the reader in the third stanza ‘if you too could pace’ Owen is confronting the reader as if reassuring himself that there was noting he could do to save the soldier ad that it also makes the reader think of his situation for themselves. ‘His hanging face like a devil sick of sin’ this simile is also a very powerful desolation.
It clearly shows Owen’s dislike of the War as he compares the dying soldier sick of the War like a devil sick of sin. It appears futile but it is the truth. Both poets strongly try to get their point and message across that there was no need for the war and that lives could have been saved. Both poems conclude with powerful messages which make the reader feel empathy and a variety of emotions. Sassoon presents his dislike toward the War by ending with ‘I’d toddle safely home and die—in bed. ’ This leaves the reader feeling angry and astonished how the soldiers die in agony but the Majors do nothing for their country.
Similarly Owen uses, ‘The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est. Pro patria mori. ’ This differs from the title as the title is ironic whereas at the end of the poem Owen tells the reader it is all a lie and he is not patriotic of his country. This shows his complete dislike of the war. Both endings create different impacts on the reader and both show the dislike the poets faced toward the War. In conclusion, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen present their dislike of the War in their poems. The strong use of language represents the sarcasm and anger they feel toward the War, which leaves a shock factor on the reader which they will remember.