20th Century English Literature

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May 3, 2011
British Literature II
Defining Literary Techniques of 20th Century English Literature
During the 20th Century, much advancement and change occurred throughout English Literature. All of the works we studied from this period were heavily influenced by current events in the world. The writers all examined the world around them and tried to express it through their writings. The three things that weave a common thread throughout all 20th Century English Literature are global warfare, radical artistic experimentation, and the effects of colonial expansion.

The first point of global warfare is an easily identifiable and widespread one. All of the poetry we examined was centered around warfare and the effects of it on those involved. In “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy, the protagonist is struggling with the idea of warfare in general. He seems to be torn about the impersonality of war, and that he feels like he is just shooting at his enemy because they have a different uniform on. The protagonist wonders how different it would be if they had me anywhere except the battlefield and if they would even be friends. The warfare theme is continued with “Arms and the Boy” by Wilfred Owen. The point Owen is trying to get across to the reader is that God put us humans here not to fight. He gave animals antlers and claws to fight with, and He gave us brains to reason with. These are only two of the many poems that highlight and weave the warfare thread throughout 20th Century English Literature.

Radical artistic experimentation is another common thread that 20th Century English authors tried to bring out. Probably the best and most recognizable story utilizing this is “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield. This ground-breaking short story eventually became the model on which all short stories after this were written. She “manipulates time masterfully” and “makes particularly effective use of the unobtrusive flashback” (English...
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