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Analysis of Anthem for Doomed Youth

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Analysis of Anthem for Doomed Youth

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  • December 2005
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Analysis of "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

Most sonnets are about love but Wilfred Owen's sonnet, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", is somewhat different. It is honoring and remembering the soldiers who died. However, it is more or less criticizing those who did not think the young, lower ranking soldiers deserved a real funeral. The very first line of the poem presents two symbols. The first is the "bell" or a "passing-bell" and the second is "cattle". The bell could symbolize a couple of things. The bell is known as an object which tolls for the dead (recalling "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by John Donne). This "passing-bell" is referring to the deaths of the soldiers and it also foreshadows the suffering of the soldiers' families. The bell might also represent a school bell which reminds us that many of the brave, dying soldiers are still children. Owen is comparing the cattle to the young

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soldiers. Cattle are slaughtered just as the soldiers are inhumanely and mindlessly slaughtered. Imagery also exists in "Anthem for Doomed Youth". The guns mentioned in line two are made out to be "monstrous" and evil being that they are in part responsible for taking human lives. The end of the poem speaks of the "drawing-down of blinds". Traditionally this is a sign that the family is in mourning but this can also be implying drawing a sheet to cover the dead. The symbolism and imagery in Owen's sonnet are quite interesting; but even more appealing (possibly in a twisted sort of way) is the irony of the whole thing. Owen wrote of tragedy and death in battle. Little did he know at the time of writing this that he would die the very same way. He died not as young as many of the soldiers, but still fairly young at the age of twenty-five

Overall the poem is quite absorbing because of the unique qualities embodied.

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