Wilfred Owen was an exceptional poet of his time. His poetry explores the distinctive idea of the physical impacts of the war and the mental impacts of the war. Owen exposes the reality of war using a portrayal of his horrific experiences of the battlefield. He demonstrates his perspective on war by revealing his ideas through his poetry using linguistic sound devices and techniques which is paramount to a genuine understanding of Owen’s distinctive idea and focuses on the impact that the war had on the individual soldiers and their lives. Two of Wilfred Owen’s poems that explore the horrific experiences and the physical and mental impacts of the war are “Mental Cases” and “Disabled”.
“Mental Cases” is a series of graphic descriptions of young men who are being treated in hospital for shell shock and war-related mental illnesses. The soldiers who Owen describes are returned home to face a lifetime of nightmares, unable to re-enter the society for which they were fighting for due to their severe injuries. Owen’s aim is to shock and to describe in stark detail the ghastly psyched symptoms of mental torment.
Owen explores the physical impacts of the war in “Mental Cases” as he paints a graphic visual image of the men who suffered from shell shock. The men are shown to be unable to eat properly as they “slob their relish”, and their ‘hellish’ appearance is reinforced through the comparison of their faces to skulls in the simile “Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ teeth wicked”.
To portray the physical impacts that the war had on the soldiers, “Mental Cases” portrays the graphic imagery of this poem. Owen utilizes the regularity of trochaic pentameter. Each line alternates between the stressed and unstressed beats, with the most significant words being positioned on the stressed beat. This is shown in “Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ teeth wicked” where the words “teeth”, “leer”, “skulls’” and “wicked” are the stressed beats. This trochaic pentameter...
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