Analysis Of The Last Laugh By Wilfred Owen

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Within the context of recent history, Wilfred Owen is often considered the greatest writer of modern British war poetry. Composing the vast majority of his poems in a one-year time span, Owen found inspiration from his personal experiences fighting in World War I and fellow poets joining in the fight around him. Born in 1893, Owen grew up the oldest of four children, enjoying a particularly close relationship with his mother while his father remained distant. Owen graduated from Shrewsbury Technical School at age eighteen. Afterwards, Owen took numerous odd jobs throughout Europe, seemingly at a loss for his purpose in life. Owen returned to England in September 1915, a year after the Great War began, and enlisted in England’s Artists’ Rifles …show more content…

The poem features a soldier, presumably Owen, speaking to fellow soldiers and the public regarding those atrocities. Correspondingly, drawing on the themes of innocent death and the barbaric practices of warfare, Owen expresses his remorse towards his fallen comrades and an antagonistic attitude towards the war effort through a solemn tone and specific stylistic devices. The poem is structured as free verse, contributing towards the disorganized and chaotic impression Owen experienced while witnessing these deaths firsthand, enabling the audience to understand the emotional circumstances of demise in the trenches as well. Throughout the poem, Owen routinely personifies the destructive weapons of war, characterizing them as the true instruments of death rather than the soldiers who stand behind them. Owen describes how, “Bullets chirped…Machine-guns chuckled…Gas hissed…” (Owen 3,4,15). Personifying the weapons demonstrates how pure soldiers have their innocence stolen from them through forced and blind usage of such deadly instruments. Accordingly, it is the weapons who truly receive the last laugh in the war as they kill both physically and spiritually, while soldiers are forever wounded in ways that can and cannot be seen. …show more content…

A heroic couplet structure within the poem provides a degree of clarity while still asserting the chaos and cruelness of war. Once again, it can be inferred that Owen himself serves as the speaker. However, this time his audience is more focused on young soldiers and families rather than plainly the public in general. In contrast to the previous work, this poem is set primarily in a World War I training camp, signifying the process young soldiers go through prior to deployment to the front line. The tone of this poem is more foreboding and condemnatory, not only describing the training soldiers but outright degrading their forced involvement as morally wrong. With themes rooted in the brutality of warfare and loss of innocence, both “The Last Laugh” and “Arms and the Boy” express similar messages but in different contexts. Just as before, Owen continues to personify weapons to emphasize their true role as the war mongers rather than the soldiers themselves. Owen states, “this bayonet-blade…keen with hunger of blood” (Owen 1-2). Uniquely when compared to other instances, this use of personification explicitly defines a blade as having a hunger for blood and a desire to kill, which is implemented upon the soldier who wields it. Therefore, not only

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