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Is Owen Condemning All People That Are Insensible to War?

Essay by   •  May 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,364 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,785 Views

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Owen's Poem Insensibility discusses how the soldiers must become insensitive to the war to survive its horrors, and also the people at home who choose to become insensitive by staying at home and not confronting the war. Owen discusses that the soldier must become insensitive to be able to his job properly, the insensitivity of the soldier helps him to come with the harshness of war. In this poem Owen is not fully condemning the soldier who is insensible to war, the soldier needs to be insensible to an extent to deal with the war, however he still still needs to feel compassion and not become overcome and feel nothing at all. In the poem Owen is condemning the governments and people at home. The people at home who could choose to pity the soldiers but choose no to, and the governments for sending the men out there and not even recognising the loses felt.

Throughout the poem Owen uses "Happy," almost mockingly to describe the soldiers. This could be a reference to a poem by William Wordsworth, entitled "Character of the Happy Warrior." Wordsworth having no experience of war depicts it very differently form Owen. "Character of the Happy Warrior," places war in a very positive light. The soldier in this poem is happy to be going to war because by doing so it will make him a man, "Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought upon the plan that pleased his boyish thoughts."

Stanza one of the poem is aimed at the common soldier. It describes how some soldiers have become desensitized to war and they no longer feel for other soldiers or themselves anymore. The line "Let their veins run cold," suggests that the soldiers our already metaphorically dead inside, they can fell no emotions, "No compassion fleers," suggests that they are no longer felling of the soldiers plight in the war. "Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers," this gives an imagine of dead bodies piled on the floor and soldiers just walking over them taking no notice, they could be walking over their families their friends and they would not care. The last three lines of the stanza talks about how the soldiers who have died mean nothing they are just "gaps for filling," and "no one bothers," meaning that the governments take no notice of the rising death tolls. The dying soldiers are replaceable in their war. This stanza echoes a poem by another war poet Wilfred Gibson. In Gibson's poem he has completely detached himself from his body, believing that another who looks like him went to war.

Stanza two discusses people who have lost all self preservation they "cease feeling even themselves or for themselves." The line "Dullness best solves," suggests the soldiers are better of like this. By becoming insensible to the war they are dethatching themselves, almost as if they are not there. The line "the tease and doubt of shelling and Chances strange arithmetic," suggests that there is no logic to death, no set of rules to follow for survival; death is almost playing a game with the soldiers. The price of the soldiers lives is only a shilling their enlistment bonus. The last line of the stanza again blames the government, "They keep no check on armies' decimation," the governments are insensible to the death of the soldiers.

By the end of the war over eighty thousand soldiers were thought to have suffered form shell shock, most were shot for cowardice because the condition was not known. Suffers of shell shock would be overcome with hysteria and anxiety they would suffer form loss of appetite, depression and nightmares. Soldiers with shell shock could also suffer from deafness and parallelises. The third stanza in Insensibility describes a shell shock victim. "Happy are these who loses imagination," suggests that these soldiers are better of to feel nothing, "They have enough to carry with ammunition," they have to worry about doing their job properly and feeling

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