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Wilfred Owen’s Use of Rhetorical Question: Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth

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Wilfred Owen’s poetry ensures that the poems always remain relevance in society today as conflict through war is still taking lives causing loss and grief uses the empathy of the solider suffering at war to encourage engagement from the readers through the dehumanising ways, and the irreconcilable mourning to demonstrate the intense consequences of war enduring the relevance of war today, while still questioning the religious beliefs as one of Wilfred Owens poems “Futility” reveals the pointlessness of war and empathy the soldiers have for one another, while representing the melancholy of the soldiers and the consequences for those who are left to survive. While the other poem I will be doing is “Anthem for Doomed Youth” this poem exposes the empathy of youth and waste of life in war, as well as talking about the impact of war on the soldier’s families making it empathic to the audience, through the false sense of glory and propaganda.

Owens poem ‘Futility’ embodies the pointlessness of war though many poetic techniques causing empathy for the soldiers and making it relevance to the waste of life at war. In this poem, Wilfred focuses on the soldier’s experiences and life and death are symbolically presented throughout. The sun and earth are personified in the relationship to life and death of the soldiers at war. In the 1st stanza the sun is referred to a kind and it’s “touch awoke him”, symbolically and metaphorically presenting it as life, whereas the earth is referred to asleep, representing the soldier’s as asleep, or, even more horrifically, dead in the trenches within the earth. This causes the readers to feel compassionate as it depicts war as wasteful and challenging as soldiers need to overcome death. The imagery used in this poem, includes the symbolism of seeds for growth and the personification of the “kind old sun”, contributed to the experiences of the soldiers. The use of rhetorical questions impacts the audience and makes the readers question “gods” ability through biblical imagery. The change of sleep is used to refer to death, presenting a clam, slow tone and mood in the 1st stanza while the 2nd stanza presents a desperate, growth frustrated tone and mood. Owen idea was to covey to the audience grief and loss experienced firsthand. This poem is confronting the inhumanity of war. As Owen argues that war is an unnatural pointless end to the life of young men.

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In contrast, Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” which explores the effect of war on soldiers as well as their families through the machinery of war and the endurance the solider have to overcome casing empathy throughout the poem. Firstly, the use of bitter tone to identify the consequences of war, forces the readers to feel empathic and compassion for those who have and are suffering and dying at war. The opening of the poem is a rhetorical question identifying the lack of humanity left in those who die. As there are no “passing-bells” as unusually the ritual of the bells happens when someone dies but there aren’t any bells for the soldiers dehumanizing them. Compared to the opening of ‘Futility’ as it is very soft and personifying the religion used to care for the soldiers to appeal the bringing back of the solider. Owen employs assonance in the first stanza of “anthem of doomed youth” to convey the mistreatment of the soldiers. Though the repetition of ‘a’ sound in ‘rapid rattle’ mimics the sound of church bells. Another technique used by Owen to highlights the effect which war had on the soldier’s families is the light and dark imagery, shown through the word’s “glimmer”, “shine” and “blind”. The imagery allows the readers to visualise the dimming of lights, this represents the death of the soldiers, the fading away of memories as pass away. Unlike Owen’s poem ‘Futility’, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ depicts the effect which the war has on soldiers as well as their families. Resulting the wasteful life of the youthful soldiers at war.

In conclusion, we can say Wilfred Owen uses his poems, ‘Futility’ and ’Anthem for Doomed Youth’ to represent the brutal and horrid nature of war and suffering of both soldiers and family though the expression of the feeling of loss & grief through the use of poetic devices in an empathic way making his poems relevance to today. Leaded to a sense of compassion for those lives that have been destroyed by the war.

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Wilfred Owen’s Use of Rhetorical Question: Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/wilfred-owens-use-of-rhetorical-question-futility-and-anthem-for-doomed-youth/
“Wilfred Owen’s Use of Rhetorical Question: Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/wilfred-owens-use-of-rhetorical-question-futility-and-anthem-for-doomed-youth/
Wilfred Owen’s Use of Rhetorical Question: Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/wilfred-owens-use-of-rhetorical-question-futility-and-anthem-for-doomed-youth/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Wilfred Owen’s Use of Rhetorical Question: Futility and Anthem for Doomed Youth [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/wilfred-owens-use-of-rhetorical-question-futility-and-anthem-for-doomed-youth/
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