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How would you describe Owen’s understanding on faith based upon Anthem for Doomed Youth and Futility?
Owen questioned the presence of faith through different methods both poem. In Anthem for Doomed Youth, he used war associated images to replace what a ‘regular’ funeral would have which on the other hand reveals the lack of faith. For Futility, he questioned the existence of God when it is required. Both expression recommends he was not a follower of religious beliefs rather he has a strength of view on it.
His view on religion might be impacted by the misery that was triggered by war.
The tone of the first stanza in Futility was really gentle. The image of the sun recommends light, heat, hope and even god himself. Owen personified the sun as “old” and “kind” adding warmth to the tone. The warm tone of the very first 4 lines of the poem suggests he as soon as had faith in religion even in “France” which might be a reference to war.
“Until” the soldier was killed on this “morning” and this “snow”. The word “morning” sounds like “grieving” producing an unfortunate imagery and “snow” which recommends the cold, the reverse of warmth, the devil. Although the soldier’s life was currently taken he still had faith in god, he thought there “may” be a possibility that the sun, the god could bring life from dead again.
Carrying on the second stanza, the change of tone is really apparent. This is recommended through the requiring word “think”.
The harsh “k” sound conveys the frustration and desperation the poet has for god. “Seeds” suggests development and “clays of the cold star” is a biblical imagery due to the fact that man are made from clay, both recommends the start of life. If the sun is the mother of creation why can’t he reanimate this soldier yet God himself increased from the dead? Yet the lots of stories of God recovery guy from all sort of diseases are given life once again but not this fallen soldier whose body is “still warm”? Owen explained the body as “so dear-achieved”, this is an appreciation to god’s development.
Why could god create such majestic mankind yet he could not bring life back to the solider? Here Owen repetitively questioned and mocked the existence of god, where is he when he is needed? “Was it for this the clay grew tall” this line is very important because it links to the title of the poem, Futility, what is the point of life when it ends in death, again a heavy tone of mockery is hinted through this line. Owen described the sunbeams as “fatuous” again the pointlessness of the sending warm to mankind when all they do is brutally destroy each other, indirectly calling god foolish and questioning his existence. Rhetorical questions are repetitively used to express the poet’s frustration, the pointlessness of life and to make the reader’s think.
‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ the title is a juxtaposition as a opening to a poem full of irony. Throughout the entire poem Owen compared religious rituals to striking war imagery suggesting religion are not the saints they claim to be,instead just like war they are also covered in blood and sins.
Owen opened the poem with a rhetorical question emphasizing on the worthlessness of the lives of the soldiers. The intention of “Passing-bells” was to bring attention that the soul is now passing to the other world and scare the devil away from obtaining this soul yet Owen compared the bells to “monstrous anger of the guns” and “stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle”. The word “monstrous” suggests destruction,death and evilness. Alliteration was used to mimic the sound of gun fires. Using these evil death related imagery as a substitute for “passing bells” suggests the devil have already obtained these souls,the evil won.
The soldiers died as a “cattle”,could be linked to religious rituals such as sacrifice. But not sacrificing for the kind but the evil. “Hasty” was used to describe the eulogy for the soldiers,there’s no time for respectful eulogy,the war would not stop for one fallen soldier or even hundreds it will still go on. These soldiers are just sacrifices to the bigger image since the churches at the time supported war,they believed it was rein-acting the bible,they believed these deaths were worth it because they thought it will bring them to a better place. Again the irony,churches were suppose to spread peace yet they were the one who supported violence,they supported the evil acts. “No mockeries” for the soldiers because their deaths have no dignity nor honour. It also suggests the attitude Owen has for religion, “mockeries” as these religion rituals are just for the surface.
These rituals does not make their deaths more honourable, does not take away sorrow from their family ,does not bring their lives back. The confusing comparisons Owen listed throughout the poem by substituting evil images for religious rituals makes the reader question if there is a difference between light and dark,could it be the same thing? Could the church be the devil in disguise? All these religion rituals at a funeral could be a mask for the dirty works of the devil,as a comfort for the family believing that their loved ones died honourably when their bodies was simply lined up and thrown into the underground which links to hell,going back to who they served in the war the devil.
These two poems both expressed Owen’s perception on religion very clearly. He questioned the existence and purpose of religion.
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