Wilfred Owen's Use of Imagery

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Mr. Horsfall Yr 11 IB English Thomas Brelsford 11.5

‘Discuss Owen’s use of visual and aural imagery in three of his poems’

Wilfred Owen was a famous anti-war poet from World War I. He wrote poems about his first-hand experiences during the war. Wilfred Owen uses personification, metaphors and similes, onomatopoeia, alliteration and assonance to increase the effectiveness of the messages he is trying to convey and to create a variety of visual and aural imagery. The use of these literary devices intensifies the dramatic effect of his poetry and enables the reader to empathise with the confrontations and frantic conditions faced by the soldiers. The three poems that I will use to provide evidence are ‘The Last Laugh’, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘The Sentry’.

The first literary device that I shall discuss is Owen’s use of personification. In each of the poems, Owen uses personification to describe weapons and living conditions as having human characteristics. In ‘The Last Laugh’, the weapons are given capital letters to suggest that they have names as humans do. Furthermore, they are given physical features or human attributes. For example, in ‘The Last Laugh’, the bayonets are described as having ‘long teeth’ and in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ the rifles are described as ‘stuttering’. The steps in ‘The Sentry’ are described as being ‘choked’ by slush. Finally, ‘the lofty Shrapnel-cloud leisurely gestured’ in ‘The Last Laugh’ suggests that the Shrapnel-cloud has arms.

Owen also personifies the weapons to make them seem as though they are mocking the soldiers. As an example, the shrapnel-cloud in ‘The Last Laugh’ gestures ‘ Fool! And the falling splinters tittered.’ The guns in this poem are directly described as laughing in ‘Machine-guns chuckled – Tut tut! Tut tut!’ and they scold the soldiers whilst making fun of them. The weapons mock further in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ where the soldiers have no...
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