An Essay Comparing the Ways in Which Owen Powerfully Portrays Physical and Mental Consequences of War in the Poems 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases'

1960 Words Nov 23rd, 2012 8 Pages
Compare the ways in which Owen powerfully portrays physical and mental consequences of war in the poems 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases'
Wilfred Owen's poems 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases' each portray very different aspects of war and its consequences. As their names suggest, 'Mental Cases' is about the psychological effects war had on soldiers, whereas 'Disabled' focuses more on the physical consequences of war. However, in both poems the physical and mental costs are all intertwined, and although they describe very different situations, in many ways the poems are alike in their portrayal of the consequences of war overall.
The first ways in which we can compare these poems is by their content, language and tone. In the poem 'Disabled', Owen
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Before the war, the subject of the poem was a handsome and popular teenager who was excellent at football, however, his injuries have left him disfigured and completely dependent on others, which leads to a mental torment far subtler but almost as agonising as that of the subjects in 'Mental Cases' - he spends all his time thinking about the time before the war, and regretting that he signed up. This is the main tragedy behind this poem - the fact that the whole situation could have been prevented if he hadn't. The narrator of the poem recognises this, and expresses the subject's regret with lines such as "In the old times, before he threw away his knees". The use of the phrase "threw away" shows that the subject does not think that it was worth it - he feels that he lost his limbs for nothing; it was a waste. It also suggests that he blames himself for what happened. Another phrase which is very powerful in conveying the mental consequences of war on the subject of this poem is in the first line; when he is described as sitting and "waiting for dark". This shows how he empty his life is, because he has nothing to do but wait for darkness to come, so he can go to bed. The final phrase which powerfully portrays the mental consequences of war is when, describing how the subject was naive when he signed up for the war, the narrator writes "no fears of Fear came yet." By turning the second 'fear' into a proper
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