Coursework possible question

“The war did not end in the soldiers minds”
How do Wilfred Owen, Sebastian Faulks and R.C Sheriff present the loss of sanity and normality of life for the soldiers?

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Birdsong Essay

The novel ‘Birdsong’ focuses on the lives of those in war and also those at home. Faulks gives a graphic and detailed insight to war, focusing on the people who are wounded and showing how the war both changed and affected all the people at that time.

The novel is constructed in a certain way for a purpose. Faulks provides the reader with information before the characters in the novel. In part three of the novel Elizabeth is starting to discover her grandfathers history, however as readers we already know it. Faulks has transported the readers to the war and made them feel they have actually witnessed the tragedies he describes. The construction of the novel allows readers to be engaged and feel they are on the same journey as the characters.

Faulks uses certain characters to present different ideas. The character of Isabelle is used to explore what life options women had in WW1. Azaire is used to show capitalism compared to socialism, he takes advantage of the lower classes. Stephan is used to show how war changes a person, after the war Stephan “said little”, his character is used to show how damaging the war was to soldiers. The character of Elizabeth shows how the war has changed modern day society. Elizabeth is able to work, go out on her own and have a baby without being married, all because of those who died in the war.

Faulks uses a number of techniques throughout the novel. In the opening of the novel Faulks uses language associated with nature “wild”, “flowers”, “river”. This allows the novel to begin with a calm and peaceful tone, which is then a direct contrast to the descriptions of war. This helps intensify the brutality of war and nature being destroyed.

Faulks also begins to use language of war at the beginning of the novel. Azaire uses words such as “retrench” and “assault”. This introduces the themes and causes of war before it has even began. This helps create a link with people at home and those sent away to fight.

The use of short sentences also allows certain sections to be stripped of emotion, “He had just been married. There was a baby on the way”. The short sentences create the image of a computer scanning through the system for the soldiers name, the lack of emotion shows the frequency of how often people were killed. It allows the reader to see how immune the soldiers became to their surroundings.

Faulks also uses a hyperbole, “the air overhead was packed solid with noise that did not move”. This shows the intensity of the noise in war. He then ends the page with “looked around him, for a moment it was completely quiet”. This creates a complete contrast and just like Stephan it makes the novel pause for a moment.

Faulks also uses a mixed semantic field of language in the same section to describe all the aspects of war.  He first uses language to do with butchery “pink skin” . This shows that the soldiers were treated like meat and sent to be butchered. He then uses language associated with drowning in sound “wave breaking”, “noisy”. This is the language of madness. Both semantic fields show both the physical and mental affect the war had on the soldiers.

The description of the men’s sleeping conditions creates the image of a bullet entering the skin, “once they had inserted themselves there was no chance of movement”. This also helps the reader realize how claustrophobic the conditions were.

Faulks uses a metaphor to describe the amount of lice there were in war, “his skin was alive with them”. This also links to nature, as thousands of soldiers were dying, thousands of lice were being created, “hatched eggs of hundreds of lice”. It shows how nature continues even in the worst conditions, which gives some sort of hope.

It is however Faulks graphic language which helps present the horrors of the war, “missing part of his face”, “dilated pupil floating in an area of white”. The language is so descriptive and grotesque it creates the image in the readers head.

Overall it is clear that Faulks techniques allow the reader to feel part of the characters story. The use of language and imagery make the reader feel like they have witnessed the actual events. Faulks ending the novel in modern day also shows how life changing the war was,even now in modern day the stories of the soldiers are talked about as though it was a recent event.

Faulks’ techniques in the opening of ‘Bird Song’

Faulks begins the first chapter with a very calm and peaceful tone, “quiet street, quietness”. This almost sends the reader into a false trial of thought as the peacefulness doesn’t reflect the context of the novel.

He also focuses on nature, he talks about “water gardens” and “streams”. He uses the word “fertility”. All these words represent the beauty of nature and can be seen as a huge paradox to what nature becomes after the war.

Faulks also uses words associated with war, he has the character Azaire say ” retrench”. At this point in the novel Azaire is using the term to discuss the business, however the use of this language introduces the idea of war and people rebelling.

Faulks also uses very descriptive writing when he has Stephen describe how astonishing Isabelle is, “her lower lip to linger for a fraction of a second”. This type of detail shows just how much Stephen is in ore of Isabelle. He seems to notice everything about her “the tiny white hairs on the skin”. Faulks seems to use this type of language to suggest to the reader that Stephan is almost obsessed with Isabelle and this introduces the idea of them beginning to have an affair.

All of Faulks techniques in the opening of the play give the reader a sense of how the book is going to end. His introduction is almost a paradox to the chapters about war; and this shows the huge effects war had not just on people but also on nature.

Faulks’ techniques in the opening of ‘Bird Song’

Faulks begins the first chapter with a very calm and peaceful tone, “quiet street, quietness”. This almost sends the reader into a false trial of thought as the peacefulness doesn’t reflect the context of the novel.

He also focuses on nature, he talks about “water gardens” and “streams”. He uses the word “fertility”. All these words represent the beauty of nature and can be seen as a huge paradox to what nature becomes after the war.

Faulks also uses words associated with war, he has the character Azaire say ” retrench”. At this point in the novel Azaire is using the term to discuss the business, however the use of this language introduces the idea of war and people rebelling.

Faulks also uses very descriptive writing when he has Stephen describe how astonishing Isabelle is, “her lower lip to linger for a fraction of a second”. This type of detail shows just how much Stephen is in ore of Isabelle. He seems to notice everything about her “the tiny white hairs on the skin”. Faulks seems to use this type of language to suggest to the reader that Stephan is almost obsessed with Isabelle and this introduces the idea of them beginning to have an affair.

All of Faulks techniques in the opening of the play give the reader a sense of how the book is going to end. His introduction is almost a paradox to the chapters about war; and this shows the huge effects war had not just on people but also on nature.

Review of BBC Three’s ‘Our World War’

For the last 4 weeks BBC Three has been showing a series about events and personal accounts of WW1. They have tried to reconstruct real life events using actors and special effects.

Jake Wallis Simons believes “BBC Three’s updated take on the First World War is not a fitting remembrance”. He also wrote in the article for The Telegraph, that the series fails to capture the authenticity. He believes the “heavy rock” music played alongside the “average acting”, does not represent the period of events properly.

Sam Wollaston also wrote a review about the series for The Guardian. He believes BBC Three did a wonderful job of portraying the events of WW1 for an age group of 16-34 years. He believes the program has “terrific performances, with a strong script and convincing dialogue”. He thinks the program has a strong link with ‘Saving Private Ryan’, however he feels the program is a lot more personal and intimate.

Overall it is clear to see that the program has both positive and negative reviews. However it seems It is hard to present such a tragic and dramatic event in a couple of episodes. It seems the way the program is filmed and the type of music and effects it uses affects the authenticity of it. However for it to appeal to a modern day audience it is important to use modern filming techniques and music, otherwise it could have become outdated.

The main techniques used by Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen was one of the leading poets during WW1. His poems showed the shocking and realistic insights of war, he focused on the horrors of the trenches and gas warfare.

In 1917 he was diagnosed with ‘shell shock’, as part of his treatment he was told to translate his feelings and experiences into poetry.

One of Owens most popular techniques is using strong alliteration, to produce an onomatopoeia effect to the words. In ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’; Owen writes “rifles rapid rattle”. This creates the sound of the riffles, Owen frequently creates the sounds of war to present the sheer shock and horror the noises caused the soldiers.

Another technique Owen uses is punctuation. Different types of punctuation have different uses;
• “.” represents that you have come to the end of a sentence.
• “,” can be used to create a list and seperate subordinate clauses.
• “!” Is used to end a sentence that presents strong emotion.
• “?” Is used to request information or answers.
• “…” Is used to show that words have been missed out and to make the reader guess what may have been said.
• “-” can be used to introduce a key idea or link two words together.

Owen uses punctuation in ‘ The Last Laugh’, he writes “bullets chirped-in vain, vain, vain!”. Each use of punctuation creates a pause in the poem , which allows the reader to focus of Owens use of words which reflect his pity and sorrow for those in war.

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The History Of The Sonnet

The definition of a sonnet; “a poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line”.

The sonnet was invented in Italy in the thirteenth century. However it was further developed in the fourteenth century by Francesco Petrarch. He was an Italian poet, recognised for his sonnets dedicated to a women named Laura whom he fell madly in love with.
His work made love seem more beautiful and magical, rather than just courtly love.

Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, introduced the ‘Petrarchan model’ to England in the sixteenth century. They adjusted the rhyme scheme and the meter to adjust to the English language.

Writing sonnets then became popular among gentlemen. However Shakespeare’s sonnets may have contributed to the popularity of sonnets fading away, no one could out do him or even come close to matching his skill of writing.

Although no one has ever equaled Shakespeare’s sonnets, nearly every notable poet writing in English has attempted to use sonnets. Some famous British writers of sonnets are John Donne, Milton, Wordsworth and Dylan Thomas.

The sonnet is now a great way to look at poetry over the last 400 years.