Quickly cut up the words on the sheets that you have been given



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  • Task One
  • Quickly cut up the words on the sheets that you have been given.
  • Sort them in any way you choose (use the post-its to create headings. The headings could be thematic, word or language led (conjunctions etc).
  • In groups, based on the words you have and the heading you have created, come up with a brief summary of what you think the poem is about.
  • Having seen the language and considered the possible themes, can you come up with a possible title?

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, - but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

  • Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, - but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?
  • - These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished. Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed. Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander, Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter. Always they must see these things and hear them, Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles, Carnage incomparable, and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
  • Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains, because on their sense Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black; Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh. - Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous, Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses. - Thus their hands are plucking at each other; Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging; Snatching after us who smote them, brother, Pawing us who dealt them war and madness

‘Mental Cases’ by Wilfred Owen

  • Lesson Aims
  • To understand the context of the poem and its meaning.
  • To understand the meaning of the term ’shell shock’ and its causes
  • To be able to analyse the key ideas/language
  • To be able to explain the relevance of the poem to a modern audience

Wilfred Owen

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7MuMnss4Rw
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK5kme0dCQY

The context of the poem

  • Written by Wilfred Owen, a bookish, creative young man who joined the army in September 1915. He was idealistic and believed in the honour of fighting for your country.
  • 1917 was the pivotal year in his life. In January he was posted to France and saw his first action in which he and his men were forced to hold a flooded dug-out in no-man's land for fifty hours whilst under heavy bombardment. He was also injured in March but returned to the front line in April.
  • In May he was caught in a shell-explosion and when his battalion was eventually relieved he was diagnosed as having shell-shock ('neurasthenia'). He was evacuated to England and on June 26th he arrived at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. It was here that he met Siegfried Sassoon who was also a patient. Sassoon already had a reputation as a poet and after an awkward introduction he agreed to look over Owen's poems.
  • “..the place was full of men muttering uneasily or suddenly crying out in their sleep. Around me was that underworld of dreams haunted by submerged memories of  warfare and its intolerable shocks……. Each man was back in his doomed sector of a horror-stricken front line, where the panic and stampede of some ghastly experience was re-enacted” Thus Siegfried Sassoon remembers the scene in Craiglockhart where he and Wilfred Owen were patients in late summer 1917.
  • Owen was killed on the 4th November 1918, his parents were informed on the 11th, the day peace was declared. His anti war poems are world famous and expose the pointless suffering and injustice of violence.

Shell Shock

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc7ehb8agWY

Shellshock

  • The First World War devastated the lives of a generation of young men. But the trauma of war didn't end when the guns stopped firing...
  • Thousands of soldiers returned from the battlefield shell shocked from the sheer horror and fear of the war. By the end of the war, 20,000 men were still suffering from shell shock. Thousands more had experienced its symptoms during their military service.
  • On the front line
  • At first shellshock was thought to be caused by soldiers being exposed to exploding shells. But doctors couldn't find any physical damage to explain the symptoms. Medical staff started to realise that there were deeper causes. Doctors soon found that many men suffering the symptoms of shell shock without having even been in the front lines.

Medical Symptoms

  • Arthur Hubbard was one of millions of men who suffered psychological trauma as a result of their war experiences.
  • Soldiers who had bayoneted men in the face developed hysterical tics of their own facial muscles. Stomach cramps seized men who knifed their foes in the abdomen. Snipers lost their sight. Terrifying nightmares of being unable to withdraw bayonets from the enemies' bodies persisted long after the slaughter.
  • The dreams might occur 'right in the middle of an ordinary conversation' when 'the face of a Boche that I have bayoneted, with its horrible gurgle and grimace, comes sharply into view', an infantry captain complained. An inability to eat or sleep after the slaughter was common. Nightmares did not always occur during the war. World War One soldiers like Rowland Luther did not suffer until after the armistice when (he admitted) he 'cracked up' and found himself unable to eat, deliriously re-living his experiences of combat.

Symptoms of Shellshock

  • Read the following accounts written by journalists who spent time in the trenches during World War One.
  • What symptoms of shell shock can you identify?
  • “I saw a sergeant-major convulsed like someone suffering from epilepsy. He was moaning horribly with blind terror in his eyes. He had to be strapped to a stretcher before he could be carried away. Soon afterwards I saw another soldier shaking in every limb, his mouth slobbered, and two comrades could not hold him still. These badly shell-shocked boys clawed their mouths ceaselessly. Others sat in the field hospitals in a state of coma, dazed, as though deaf and dumb.”
  • “The shell-shock cases were the worst to see and the worst to cure. At first shell-shock was regarded as damn nonsense and sheer cowardice by Generals who had not themselves witnessed its effects. They had not seen, as I did, strongly, sturdy, men shaking with ague, mouthing like madman, figures of dreadful terror, speechless and uncontrollable. It was a physical as well as a moral shock which had reduced them to this quivering state.”

What causes shellshock?

  • Battlefield breaking points
  • On 7 July 1916, Arthur Hubbard painfully set pen to paper in an attempt to explain to his mother why he was no longer in France. He had been taken from the battlefields and deposited in the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital suffering from 'shell shock'. In his words, his breakdown was related to witnessing 'a terrible sight that I shall never forget as long as I live'. He told his mother:
  • 'We had strict orders not to take prisoners, no matter if wounded my first job was when I had finished cutting some of their wire away, to empty my magazine on 3 Germans that came out of one of their deep dugouts. bleeding badly, and put them out of misery. They cried for mercy, but I had my orders, they had no feeling whatever for us poor chaps... it makes my head jump to think about it. ‘
  • Hubbard had 'gone over the top' at the Battle of the Somme. While he managed to fight as far as the fourth line of trenches, by 3.30pm practically his whole battalion had been wiped out by German artillery. He was buried, dug himself out, and during the subsequent retreat was almost killed by machine gun fire. Within this landscape of horror, he collapsed.

To be able to explain the relevance of the poem to a modern audience?

  • Today the symptoms of shell shock would be classed as some of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological and physical condition that can be caused by extremely frightening or distressing events. PTSD can occur after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as military combat, natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist attacks, violent deaths and other situations in which the person felt extreme fear, horror or helplessness.

When you read a text for the first time:

  • IDENTIFY any TECHNIQUES being used (use the glossary to help) and think about their EFFECT.
  • NOTICE any significant or unusual PUNCTUATION and think about the EFFECT it has.
  • LOOK at the FORM / STRUCTURE / LAYOUT of the poem on the page. Think about how the division into lines and verses affects MEANING and EMPHASIS.
  • CONSIDER any unexpected or particularly effective WORD CHOICE and any variations in TONE and/or REGISTER.

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, - but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

  • Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, - but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?
  • relating to or similar to purgatory- in Roman Catholic doctrine, the place where souls remain until they have expiated their sins and can go to heaven; a place of suffering
  • To carve/cut grooves in something using a sharp tool
  • a deep crack or hole in the ground
  • a pattern of repeated geometric figures, usually consisting of straight lines, used as an ornament or in an ornamental border AND a restless complaining state brought on by anxiety or irritation

- These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished. Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed. Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander, Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter. Always they must see these things and hear them, Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles, Carnage incomparable, and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.

  • - These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished. Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed. Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander, Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter. Always they must see these things and hear them, Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles, Carnage incomparable, and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
  • A euphemism for rape – to capture and carry off something by force
  • Marsh/bog
  • countless
  • Disconnection / rescue

Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains, because on their sense Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black; Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh. - Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous, Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses. - Thus their hands are plucking at each other; Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging; Snatching after us who smote them, brother, Pawing us who dealt them war and madness

  • Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains, because on their sense Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black; Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh. - Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous, Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses. - Thus their hands are plucking at each other; Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging; Snatching after us who smote them, brother, Pawing us who dealt them war and madness
  • a leather whip formerly used in imperial Russia for flogging
  • AND – religious connotations – whipping as an extreme from of self-punishment to expiate sins
  • To punish/ whip somebody severely
  • Biblical term: to hit someone very hard; to affect someone strongly; to afflict someone

Analysis of the Poem

  • We are going to complete a mindmap relay for ‘Mental Cases’ where you are going to analyse the text!
  • Identify Highlight Annotate
  • TECHNIQUES
          • word choice
          • Imagery
          • Figures of speech
          • Tone/register
          • Structure & punctuation
          • You will have ten minutes on your own to roughly annotate the poem to help get you warmed up for the race.
  • 1 point for each technique
  • 2 points for correct analysis

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' tongues wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hand palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

  • Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' tongues wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hand palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?
  • Rhetorical Question: opening stanza= a description of the soldiers (although they are not identified as such at this point. Questions focus reading on dehumanising effect of war – so impacted they are not recognisable as human

Lines 1-4

  • Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jays that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked?
  • Rhetorical questions immediately engage the reader. Introduce idea of how soldiers have been transformed by war /unrecognisable
  • Word choice conveys how men are passive. ‘Twilight’ has connotations of life ending and creates sinister mood
  • Metaphor develops sinister mood. Ref to purgatory (hell) suggests extent of suffering, men are trapped in living hell. ‘Shadows’ physical weakness as well as disassociation with world -
  • Word choice has connotations of pleasure, making description even more disturbing.
  • Simile clearly suggests men have effectively been killed, that they are now empty or hollow in a sense.

Lines 5-9

  • Stroke on stroke of pain,- but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets? Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms Misery swelters. Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?
  • Repetition emphasises suffering and has connotations of deliberate torture.
  • Use of paradox to convey how longevity of trauma of battle
  • Word choice, emphasised by use of enjambment, has connotations of extreme violence and enormity of suffering it has caused
  • Synedoche develops idea of intensity of suffering
  • Description and metaphor conveys constant agony of soldiers and how they are entirely possessed by shell shock, total loss of control
  • Again use of rhetorical question to involve reader- suggests even to witness soldiers’ suffering is unbearable. Ambiguity of subject highlights how soldiers have been devastated by conflict.

Summary of Stanza 1

  • Owen creates a very disturbing image at the very start of the poem to create an immediate and powerful impact on the reader.
  • Reader is engaged through use of repeated use of rhetorical questions.
  • The identity of the subject of the poem is deliberately ambiguous in this stanza to engage readers’ interest and emphasise the devastating transformation of the soldiers’ caused by war.
  • Repeated references to hell, death and suffering to develop sense of extent of suffering caused by war and to imply something immoral or sinful has occurred.

Lines 10-14

  • -These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished. Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed. Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander, Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
  • Identity of subject finally revealed as this stanza begins to explain what has caused their suffering
  • Word choice has connotations of something sinful, men have overwhelmed by inhumane acts they witnessed
  • Alliteration and repetition emphasise sense of extent of violence. Idea is immoral, a sin/ crime
  • Word choice develops idea that men are victims of war
  • Word choice creates image of magnitude of loss of life and struggle to endure war
  • Juxtaposition and alliteration
  • create pathos for soldiers and shocking image of reality of war

Lines 15 -18

  • Always they must see these things and hear them, Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles, Carnage incomparable, and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
  • Enjambment used to highlight long lasting impact of war
  • Plosive sound and use of rhyme emphasise violence of war
  • Phrase creates image of total destruction of human life
  • Enjambment and emotive word choice convey sense of scale and savagery of violence
  • Emotive word choice tells of how life has been carelessly wasted- critical, angry tone
  • Stanza creates a list of horrors of war men have witnessed to build to this climatic line- they can’t escape memories of conflict

Summary of Stanza 2

  • Having forced the reader to examine the horrific state of the victims of war, in Stanza 2 Owen exposes the reality of combat that has destroyed them.
  • The stanza operates as a list of to convey a sense of the overwhelming horror of war as it describes men ‘wading’ through blood and crushing bodies under foot in the chaos and din of the battlefield.
  • Word choice such as ‘murder’ and ‘carnage’ continue to develop the idea that a terrible crime or sin has been committed.

Lines 19-21

  • Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains, because on their sense Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black; Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh.
  • Owen makes direct link between horrors of war and shellshocked men
  • Implies war is too dreadful to look at and yet men can’t erase these images
  • Word choice continues extended metaphor of hell and sin
  • Images of life and death are juxtaposed to show how what is naturally good is corrupted by war- everything is tainted by violence
  • Night brings men no peace ‘blood-black’ has obvious connotations of evil and death
  • Simile explains that every day brings new suffering- dawn, symbolic of hope and new starts, is a time of renewed pain and misery

Lines 22-27

  • -Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous, Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses. -Thus their hands are plucking at each other; Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging; Snatching after us who smote them, brother, Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.
  • Metaphor compares men to dead bodies with fixed smiles caused by rigor mortis, as being mocked by madness
  • Metaphor develops refs to torture, as if men being punished for their part in war
  • Word choice implies desperation
  • Owen clearly condemns society for sending men to war, very bitter critical tone

Summary of Stanza 3

  • In the final stanza we are, again, faced with a vivid description of the horrific suffering of these men. The suggestion is that this pain and suffering will never end for them.
  • He ends with clear condemnation of society – we are to blame for this.

Personal Response

  • A really great critical essay not only shows that you understand a text and can analyse it but that you have formed a thoughtful opinion about it that you can explain clearly.
  • Explain:
  • What you feel about the subject and message of the poem (war and how it affects people’s lives) Include a clear sense of how the style and language of the poem creates this feeling.

Notes

  • Detailed annotation of the poem
  • Discussion of key points/themes
  • Create notes like Almond Tree individually for revision purposes using a thematic approach

Key Themes and Messages

  • Discussion and Note Taking

Points About Form

  • Discussion and Note Taking

Writing the Essay

  • Same as essays for the Almond Tree – keep focused on the question and analyse techniques with clear reference to it.
  • We are going to look at the start of a model essay and then you are going to have a chance to work through the remainder of the essay
  • Plans for exemplar questions
  • Select a question to complete for a week today

Critical Essay Task

  • Choose a poem in which the poet has achieved a perfect blend of form and content.
  • Show how the poet achieves this and discuss how it adds to your appreciation of the poem.
  • In your answer you must refer to at least TWO of structure, mood, imagery, ideas or any other appropriate feature.
  • REMEMBER TO ANALYSE BOTH PARTS OF THE QUESTION.

Critical Essay Task

  • Choose a poem in which the poet has achieved a perfect blend of form and content.
  • Show how the poet achieves this and discuss how it adds to your appreciation of the poem.
  • In your answer you must refer to at least TWO of structure, mood, imagery, ideas or any other appropriate feature.
  • REMEMBER TO ANALYSE BOTH PARTS OF THE QUESTION.
  • Plan – Intro TAGL
  • Overview/assertion
  • Stanza one
  • Stanza two
  • Stanza three
  • Conclusion

Introduction TAGL

  • Choose a poem in which the poet has achieved a perfect blend of form and content.
  • Show how the poet achieves this and discuss how it adds to your appreciation of the poem.
  • In your answer you must refer to at least TWO of structure, mood, imagery, ideas or any other appropriate feature.
  • Form and content blend perfectly in ‘Mental Cases’ by the renowned war poet, Wilfred Owen. In writing this poem Owen has successfully combined these aspects through a range of techniques, such as structure and imagery, which enhance our understanding of the poem.

Introduction TAGL

  • Choose a poem in which the poet has achieved a perfect blend of form and content.
  • Show how the poet achieves this and discuss how it adds to your appreciation of the poem.
  • In your answer you must refer to at least TWO of structure, mood, imagery, ideas or any other appropriate feature.
  • Form and content blend perfectly in ‘Mental Cases’ by the renowned war poet, Wilfred Owen. In writing this poem Owen has successfully combined these aspects through a range of techniques, such as structure and imagery, which enhance our understanding of the poem.

Overview

  • Provide an introductory paragraph that introduces they key elements of your essay and initiates your line of thought e.g.:
  • The form of Owen’s poem – in terms of the strucutre and language– marries beautifully with the upsetting content and is very effective in conveying Owen’s ideas, in particular his message regarding the surviving soldiers of the World War I trenches. Each verse has a particular function in the conveying of the message, which effectively allows us to follow the writer’s ideas from conception to conclusion.

Overview

  • Provide an introductory paragraph that introduces they key elements of your essay and initiates your line of thought e.g.:
  • The form of Owen’s poem – in terms of the strucutre and language– marries beautifully with the upsetting content and is very effective in conveying Owen’s ideas, in particular his message regarding the surviving soldiers of the World War I trenches. Each verse has a particular function in the conveying of the message, which effectively allows us to follow the writer’s ideas from conception to conclusion.

Section 1 – Verse 1

  • In the first verse Owen combines the use of rhetorical questions and powerful imagery to confront us with shocking images of the effect war has had on these men, even though they have survived. These rhetorical questions effectively engage our attention as he challenges us to guess what he is describing: the men are so debilitated by their experience they are virtually unrecognisable as human.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 – Verse 1 - Point

  • In the first verse Owen combines the use of rhetorical questions and powerful imagery to confront us with shocking images of the effect war has had on these men, even though they have survived. These rhetorical questions effectively engage our attention as he challenges us to guess what he is describing: the men are so debilitated by their experience they are virtually unrecognisable as human.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • For example the poem opens with three different questions : ‘Who’, ‘Why’ and ‘Wherefore’ and this repetitive style definitely creates a sense that whatever he is describing is unidentifiable.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • For example the poem opens with three different questions : ‘Who’, ‘Why’ and ‘Wherefore’ and this repetitive style definitely creates a sense that whatever he is describing is unidentifiable.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • This idea is continued with their description as ‘purgatorial shadows’ which introduces the idea that they are less than what they once were, reduced to ‘shadows’ of their formal selves as well as creatures trapped in the limbo of Purgatory, somewhere between heaven and hell. It is clear Owen wants us to realise that these creatures are suffering and that this suffering is never-ending.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • This idea is continued with their description as ‘purgatorial shadows’ which introduces the idea that they are less than what they once were, reduced to ‘shadows’ of their formal selves as well as creatures trapped in the limbo of Purgatory, somewhere between heaven and hell. It is clear Owen wants us to realise that these creatures are suffering and that this suffering is never-ending.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • However, what is surprising, given the subject matter is that Owen is not only trying to engage our sympathy at this point. He also shocks and repels us with very powerful and unpleasant imagery such as, “drooping tongues” and “jaws that slob their relish’, both of which create an image of a beast or an animal. This vivid depiction powerfully reinforces the idea that Owen’s subjects are less than human – they are frightening and even revolting in appearance, and unrecognisable as humans.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • However, what is surprising, given the subject matter is that Owen is not only trying to engage our sympathy at this point. He also shocks and repels us with very powerful and unpleasant imagery such as, “drooping tongues” and “jaws that slob their relish’, both of which create an image of a beast or an animal. This vivid depiction powerfully reinforces the idea that Owen’s subjects are less than human – they are frightening and even revolting in appearance, and unrecognisable as humans.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Section 1 - EA

  • Nevertheless he does also effectively engages our sympathy after these shocking descriptions with several other images including:
  • The repetition in ‘Stroke on stroke of pain’
  • The juxtaposition in the phrase ‘low panic’
  • The powerful metaphor, ‘Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?’ the highly effective use of personification in ‘Misery swelters’.
  • ANALYSE and EVALUATE at least one example…

End of part 1!

  • Verse one ends effectively with a final question, ‘who these hellish?’ which again reinforces the unrecognisable nature of the poem’s subjects as well as repeating the idea of their situation as being similar to being in Hell.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

End of part 1!

  • Verse one ends effectively with a final question, ‘who these hellish?’ which again reinforces the unrecognisable nature of the poem’s subjects as well as repeating the idea of their situation as being similar to being in Hell.
  • A = quotations
  • B = techniques
  • C = linking
  • D = analysis
  • E = Evaluation

Part 2

  • Owen next successfully begins verse 2, introducing the answer to his rhetorical questions of verse 1 with a dash. He conveys both who these creatures are, and why they are as they are. He also continues to shock and repel us whilst also ensuring that we feel real compassion for the soldiers as he describes the horrors of war and the impact it has had on those who survived.

Horrors of war: (paragraph)

  • Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
  • Carnage incomparable and human squander
  • Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
  • ANALYSE and EVALUATE at least one example.

Shocking and repellent: (paragraph)

  • Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
  • Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
  • shatter of flying muscles,
  • ANALYSE and EVALUATE at least one example.

Generating compassion: (paragraph)

  • …men whose minds the Dead have ravished
  • Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
  • Always they must see these things and hear them,
  • Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
  • ANALYSE and EVALUATE at least one example.

Part 3: Final Verse

  • Finally, in the third verse, Owen comes to the heart of his message, where he accuses those he feels are responsible for creating and then abandoning these creatures. He reaches a number of conclusions in this verse, and instead of questions, uses language which introduces an explanation of his ideas: ‘Therefore’ and ‘Thus’. The verse begins with further description of the condition of the soldiers in the hospital, engendering not just a feeling of compassion but also one of anger. He forcefully conveys the on-going state of mind of the soldiers through a variety of imagery, strongly communicating a central idea of the poem: that the damage is done is so great there is no hope of healing.

Possible quotations

  • Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black;
  • Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh
  • — Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,
  • Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
  • — Thus their hands are plucking at each other;
  • Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;
  • ANALYSE and EVALUATE at least one example.

Final Lines

  • Owen movingly saves his most powerful idea for the closing lines of the poem. Here he lays the blame for what has happened to these soldiers quite squarely on those he feels are responsible- the people who ‘sold’ them the idea embodied in the Latin motto made famous by another of Owen’s poems:
  • Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
  • In addition, through his use of ‘us’ and ‘brother’ he fully acknowledges his own part in this.

Conclusion

  • In conclusion, whilst Owen is famous for poetry which recreates the WWI trench experience, in ‘Mental Cases’, by employing a range of techniques, he goes further. In this poem, a perfect blend of form and content, he goes beyond the trenches to explore key ideas: to describe what happens to those who return; to communicate in powerful detail the effect these experiences had; and finally to accuse and condemn those responsible.

Choose a poem which seems to you to be critical of a person or a point of view.

  • Choose a poem which seems to you to be critical of a person or a point of view.
  • Discuss how effectively this criticism is presented by the poet.
  • Choose a poem in which the central concern(s) is/are clarified for you in the closinglines.
  • Show how these closing lines provide an effective clarification of the central concern(s) of the poem.
  • Choose a poem in which the creation of mood or atmosphere is an important feature.
  • Show how the poet creates the mood or atmosphere, and discuss its importance in your appreciation of the poem as a whole.
  • Choose a poem in which the poet explores one of the following emotions: anguish, dissatisfaction, regret, loss.
  • Show how the poet explores the emotion and discuss to what extent he or she is successful in deepening your understanding of it.


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