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Distinctively Visual Maestro

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Composers utilise the distinctively visual in order to give the audience a greater understanding of the characters and societal context in which they exist. It is through the techniques used as a result of the distinctively visual which ‘paints a canvas’ in the minds of the audience and allows them to connect to the individuals and societies within a text. Peter Goldsworthy in his fictional text ‘Maestro’ and Wilfred Owen in his poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ employ the distinctively visual to give the audience a greater understanding of the characters and societies, featured in their texts.

Peter Goldsworthy in his novel ‘Maestro’ monotonously incorporates contrasts to highlight numerous aspects of protagonist Paul Crabbe’s life including societal context and relationships. A notable juxtaposition is Crabbe’s intellect and sensuality, demonstrated through his acknowledgment of what is love and lust. Throughout the text, Goldsworthy presents Darwin in a negative light in many ways through the distinctively visual. Paul’s father, John Crabbe, tells stories of his daily encounters at the hospital with inhabitants who have drifted to Darwin in a place of refuge. “The city of booze, blow and blasphemy” as well as “all the scum in the country has somehow risen” assist in the crafting of an image of an unwelcoming and foul environment in the mind of the reader.

Contrasting with the negative portrayal of the inhabitants of Darwin are the powerful images used to create the lush, sensual and exotic mood of the setting. The “green five o’ clock shadow” simile concludes the description of Darwin where “everything grew larger than life.” The contrasts present in the setting of Darwin can be aligned to Paul revealing the complexity of his characterisation and symbolising his awakening sensuality and his growth.

Through his poetry, with its intense imagery and compelling metaphors, Wilfred Owen in his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est incorporates the distinctively visual to give the audience an insight into the physical, personal and mental devastation that war can produce. The title of the poem is translated to “Sweet and fitting it is,” Owen continues his poem by concluding that the title is, ironically, a lie. The contrast between the title of the poem and the horrific images the text enables the audience to recognise the false ideologies crafted by Governments as well as the true nature of war. Strategically enticing his readers through the frightening reality of life in a war zone, Owen turns patriotic eagerness into a kind of deadly life force.

By employing metaphors and similes Owen gives us a clearer acceptance and makes what he wants to state more vivid and forceful. These are shown in the 5th and 7th lines with “men marched asleep” and “drunk with fatigue.” Using these devices we can imagine these soldiers and their struggle to continue, and we can feel their lifeless bodies pushing themselves to continue.

As a result of the use of personification the composer is able to bring the poem to life. “Haunting flares” is an illustration of this language device. In this line he gives the flares the personal quality of haunting which leaves an impression with the reader of a frightening scene.

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