Shakespeare and Wilfred Owen expatiate on the common themes of manipulation, betrayal and conflict which arouse “vaulting ambition”, tremendous violence and great empathy within both the Elizabethan/Victorian audience and the modern day audience. Both writers explore how conflict can lead to both self-realisation and psychosis. Wilfred Owens “Mental Cases” depicts his personal viewpoint on the war and the government, and at the same time challenges society, religion and faith. Similarly, Shakespeare uses his play “Macbeth” to portray the repercussions of inner conflict and deception. Both writers sustain the idea of social constraints, however one writes to expose reality, and the other to entertain.
Owen excellently analyses the physical and mental consequences of war in a very personal and direct way. From the first line of the poem, the reader is engaged through the imagery and language techniques which are used to express the physical and psychological state of the soldiers. We start off with his use of interrogatives in the first stanza. From the first line itself we can identify the state of his mentality. Through his questions “who are these?” and “why sit they here in twilight?” the audience may be able to acknowledge the fact that Owen is in a state of shock, therefore has no indication of what is going on; illustrating his mental instability. Also by examining a series of rhetorical questions such as ‘Who are these?’ we can decipher that the question does not give an identity to the subject, relating to the infinite soldiers fighting with no identity, they are merely a number. Owen presents these ‘cases’ in a dehumanizing way, specifying them as ‘they’ and ‘these’ and also animalising the language.
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