Anthem for Doomed Youth - Analysis

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Anthem for Doomed Youth - Analysis
The very title that Wilfred Owen chose for his war poem, 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' is an apt representation of what he wanted the poem to encapsulate and the emotions he wanted to evoke in the readers. The word 'anthem' and 'doomed youth' is a stark juxtaposition when placed in the same sentence. An anthem is supposed to be something revered, something that represents the glory of a country and is bursting with national pride. However, when placed right before the words 'doomed youth' we get the impression that Owen is indirectly trying to question the glory and honour that most associate with war. Is it really right that we would strip youth of their lives, their dignity and their future on the pretext of defending the country? In fact. the very phrase doomed youth is a juxtaposition in itself as youth is supposed to be the prime of one's life. It is supposed to be filled with life, hope and endless possibilities. Instead this phrase paints a grim picture of a non-existent future for youth, stamped out by the violence and horrors of war. This thought-provoking poem deals with the delicate balance between what reality is and what it should be. The main theme of this poem in my opinion, is the brutality of war. However, this brutality is not found in the physical killings. Rather, it's a very different kind of brutality - one more subtle but horrific all the same. It lies in how war snuffs out young lives and inhumanely kills the dreams, the hopes and the endless possibilities that these lives could have become. The reader gets the impression that Owen sees war as futile and cruel. This is because the whole poem is shrouded by this deep sadness and frustration, due to Owen viewing the war as a heinous crime, robbing youth of their lives. Each young person should have had the freedom to chart out their path in life, and to live their lives to the fullest. Instead, their lives are snuffed out in the gore and horrors of the battlefield. Worse still, even if they were to survive, their lives would never be the same as they would forever be tormented by the nightmarish memories of war. In the first stanza, Owen seems to try to make some sense of the warped reality of war. He cannot come to terms with the fact that these lives are just blotted out in a matter of seconds - and that there is no one to remember them, to mourn their loss and to be with them in their passing. In the horrors of the battlefield, Owen speaks about how lives are dehumanized. Indeed, there is no dignity in the way these national heroes are slaughtered. Individuals with a history, with a personality, all unique and different from each other are all without identity in war, for there are only two types of people in the battlefield - allies and enemies. They 'die as cattle', seemingly forgotten and cast aside. Now that they have passed on, it is almost as if the poet wishes that there was some form of vindication and justice for them in their deaths, but in war, even that is not possible. Their deaths signify nothing. The fallen lay on the sidelines, and all the horror continues. Nothing changes. Owen personifies weapons of war in this stanza, making the weapons the antagonists in this poem. This is seen in the phrases 'monstrous anger of the guns', 'stuttering rifles' rapid rattle' and 'wailing shells'. It is particularly interesting that the poet gives human characteristics to the weapons, at the same time emphasizing the dehumanizing of humans in war by referring to humans as 'cattle', almost as if to imply that the weapons, or war itself, has the upper hand in this battle, for it has stripped humans of their lives and their future. The poet's diction in this stanza also proves significant as it really adds to the nefariousness of war. Words like 'monstrous', 'voice of mourning', 'shrill', 'demented' and 'wailing' are very strong words and they reflect the terrible oppression and stronghold that war has on the young...
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