Writers Present Wars in a Variety of Ways in Literature. Discuss How Shakespeare and a Number of Poets You Have Studied Present This Theme in Their Work.

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War is presented in various ways in literature with each writer presenting it in their own unique way due to influences in their social and historical background e.g. Owen wrote poems about war as he was experiencing it. One of the factors on whether a piece, be it a poem or a play or a novel, was positive or negative towards war all depended on the writer’s attitude towards war e.g. Jessie Pope’s “Who’s For The Game?” is all about her trying to convince men it was all a bit of fun to join the war and fight for their country, which makes perfect sense for a woman to say as women during the time of world war one often encouraged men to join war as they stayed behind to look after the children ect. But the poems I want to discuss are “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen and “Who’s for The Game?” by Jesse Pope. The play i'm going to Discuss is “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare. “Macbeth”, written in the 17th century, immediately opens with treason, with war in the country. This battle showed off the skills of Macbeth and Banquo as soldiers and how they fought together to help Scotland win. “As cannons over-charg’d with double cracks; so they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.” The language used is all positive and it praises Macbeth and Banquo. It appears that their feats are praised also. “For brave Macbeth…. Smok’d with bloody execution” Brutality and viciousness in war are thought of as a good thing in the Elizabethan times, war brings the good out in those who are willing to fight, to defend their country like Macbeth and Banquo. So instead of being horrified when it is told that Macbeth “unseam’d him from the nave to th’chaps” instead there is the use of positive adjectives to show that in fact he is thought of as a “worthy gentlemen.” Because he was able to cut a man’s head off. War is bloody and brutal but these men are rewarded for taking part in it by being given a new title, Macbeth was made the new “Thane of Cawdor,” which was a very high privilege for any soldier to get a new title by the king. Shakespeare glorifies war when it’s in defence for your own country. He writes that the King Duncan says that a soldiers wounds are full of “honour” this clearly shows that he believed it was ok for this man to get hurt because it was from the war that was defending the country. It comes across as though he believes that war in necessary when it comes to bringing peace back to the country. This attitude is completely opposite to that of Wilfred Owen. One of Owens main messages that he spoke through his poems is that war in completely unnecessary and that men should be able to communicate through words instead of actions. Although it appears that Shakespeare is pro-war and believes men should be fighting for their country he doesn’t hide the fact that he does know the consequences of war and that it is full of blood and death, he doesn’t hold back on the blood imagery he uses to describe the battle. Owen too uses his own fair amount of blood imagery throughout his poem “Mental Cases” For example Owen describes the sunlight being a “bloodsmear” and uses strong metaphorical language to compare dawn to a “wound” that opens and “bleeds afresh.” It is explained that the “foe” during the battle of Scotland and Norway are covered in blood as they “bathe in reeking wounds” that they have received from Macbeth and Banquo as they “redoubled strokes upon the foe.” The line “memorise another Golgotha” means to make the scene of bloodshed as memorable as the scene of Christ’s crucifixion, which itself was quite a bloody ordeal. It really creates a gruesome picture within the mind. But this is soon down played as the King says the wounds are full of “honour” This is very similar to a section of Jessie Pope’s “Who’s For The Game?” for she too is aware that war has got some consequences as she states “Who would much rather come back with a crutch Than lie low and miss all the fun?” but the reality is most men didn’t...
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