Wilfred Owen’s ‘The Last Laugh’: The Wasted Youth
If the entirety of the history of the human race was written in a book, one of the most predominant themes would be war. Since the time of the Greek Empire there have been a total of approximately 250 years of world peace in 2,500 years of history. The human race has fought over everything imaginable; religion, land, women, money, loyalties. Wilfred Owen’s ‘The Last Laugh’ questions who the real enemy in war is by personifying the weapons killing the soldiers.
A way Owen personifies the weapons is by making the names into proper nouns. In the first stanza “the Bullets chirped”, “Machine-guns chuckled”, and “the Big Gun guffawed”. This gives the effect that the weapons have names like humans do and helps then to become more human.
A big misconception about death and what happens when a person dies is that all life stops just because you’re not around anymore. When Owen writes “And the Gas hissed,” he is trying to show that life moves on. Sure some people will be upset, some people will tell their grandchildren about a boy they lost in the Great War, but the postman will deliver the post, the milkman will deliver the milk, and the stars will continue to shine.
When Owen writes all the guns as laughing he is personifying them to make them into the enemy. He is saying the enemy doesn’t matter because young men on both sides are going to die. He doesn’t use happy words for laughter, though; instead, he uses words such as “grinned”, “groaned”, and “guffawed”, which are somehow creepier and less innocent then just laughed or giggled. All of this evidence alludes to the fact that the way war is portrayed in propaganda verses the way it actually plays out are two completely different things. Owen was extremely against the tactics used to recruit soldiers in World War I because he thought that they weren’t realistic. This poem tries to get the young to realize that war takes innocence away and isn’t all fun...
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