Repression of War Experience

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Repression of War Experience

By | November 2010
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Personification in Siegfried Sassoon’s “Repression of War Experience”

After wartime, soldiers can suffer from not only physical injuries, but from psychological damage as well. They become victims of PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which, according to Medicinenet.com, is "an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience." Considering the horrors that these soldiers are witnesses to, it is no wonder that PTSD can overcome them. In Siegfried Sassoon's poem, "Repression of War Experience," Sassoon uses personification to emphasize the psychological damage sustained by soldiers after war. In the first two lines of the poem, Sassoon starts off by painting a rather dismal picture. He begins lighting candles and pauses to watch a moth, which he then describes to the reader. He finds it ridiculous that it flies toward the candle even though it's headed right for the flame and will end up dying. He expresses this thought by commenting on, "What silly beggars they are to blunder in, /And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flame" (lines 2-3). Of course, moths are not beggars; they are not poor citizens, but Sassoon uses personification to further develop the moth's behavior. These lines imply that moths beg for their deaths by flying toward the flame of the candle, just as soldiers beg for their deaths by signing up to fight. Moths are drawn to the flame of a candle because of the light, but do not realize that they are headed towards their death. Perhaps soldiers are attracted to war in the same way--they are tempted by the false promise of glory and honor for their country--but unknowingly march toward their own deaths as well. Sassoon links both moth and man by making such comparisons, and suggesting that both end up embracing death. Further along in the poem, and this is a very short part of the poem, indeed, Sassoon comments on the rain and asks, "Why won't it rain?" (line...
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