Poetry Comparison: 'Mental Cases' and 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen

Topics: Mind, Poetry, Man Pages: 2 (744 words) Published: March 26, 2012
The two poems 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases', both written by Owen, are about war and cover similar but also very different situations. ‘Disabled’ displays the thoughts and feelings of a young man who has lost his limbs after suffering the injuries of war. ‘Mental Cases’, on the other hand, captures the damage to men's minds as a result of war. Owen's aim is to shock and to describe in stark detail the ghastly physical symptoms of mental torment.

The main consequence that is explored in 'Disabled' is what the horrors of war can do to a person's physical state. It is quite clear from the first line that the man described in the poem is in an awful state, as he is “sat in a wheeled chair”. This same line then says that he is “waiting for dark”. This suggests that the man is alone and isolated from everybody else. Similarly to 'Disabled', 'Mental Cases' also describes war's personal after-effects, but in this case it is dealing mostly with mental anguish. Using his own experiences, Owen describes the mental effects that the war had had on other soldiers. The opening line, where the speaker asks “who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?”, suggests that the speaker has no idea who anyone else around him is. This could be because he is either in a state of confusion, or he no longer recognises people. He notes that the other patients have “drooping tongues”, which is a stereotypical image of someone who is perceived as “mental”. However, 'Mental Cases' also describes the physical injuries that soldiers have to experience. Blood imagery is effectively developed through the compound words, ‘blood-smear’ and ‘blood-black’. The impact is increased further by the ‘b’ alliteration and the negative connotations of ‘smear’ and ‘black’.

Owen also uses onomatopoeia to describe some of the sounds, “Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles”; he has done this to add to the reader’s view of war. Another thing Owen has done in ‘Mental Cases’ is using his experiences and...
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