Poetry Comparison: 'Mental Cases' and 'Disabled' by Wilfred Owen

730 Words Apr 7th, 2012 3 Pages
The two poems 'Disabled' and 'Mental Cases', both written by Owen, are about war and cover similar but also very different situations. ‘Disabled’ displays the thoughts and feelings of a young man who has lost his limbs after suffering the injuries of war. ‘Mental Cases’, on the other hand, captures the damage to men's minds as a result of war. Owen's aim is to shock and to describe in stark detail the ghastly physical symptoms of mental torment.

The main consequence that is explored in 'Disabled' is what the horrors of war can do to a person's physical state. It is quite clear from the first line that the man described in the poem is in an awful state, as he is “sat in a wheeled chair”. This same line then says that he is “waiting for
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This gives the reader the image of eyes being plucked out of their sockets, Owen has used such powerful imagery to build up tension and add to the suspense.

Both of these poems seem to hold an underlying anti-war message. We can see this in the numerous references to the terrible waste of war. In 'Disabled'; '...before he threw away his knees.' - which is emphasised by 'He thought he'd better join - He wonders why', showing us how effortless it was to make his first mistake. The comparative references within 'Mental Cases' are less clear, however can be found; 'Carnage incomparable, and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.' - the horror was too much for the men, sending them mad, I feel an implication of waste. Expanding on the anti-war message, we can find hints of bitterness towards the 'System', or government. In 'Disabled' we see, 'Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years' - a very sarcastic line, referring to the recruiting officers knowingly sending a minor to war - this pins some kind of hopeless blame onto them. 'Mental Cases' finishes off with a more generalised bitterness towards those responsible for the war, probably more vague to emphasise the subject of the poem, 'Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.'

To conclude, Owen uses many different ways to describe the physical and mental consequences of war that the soldiers