Sassoon’s Poetic Protest against the War

Sassoon’s views on the war are very correct as he has had experience in several battles and knows what the First World War was like. In his point of view in the poems, everyone whether they be blind, deaf, injured e. t. c, can all play a part in the war and do a duty. He expresses this in the verse where he says, ‘There’s such splendid work for the blind. This line I find striking. Sassoon knew about the terror and intense atmosphere of the war but he is saying that the people who were killed in the war died to save the country and it’s people.

He expresses this constantly throughout his poems. ‘The General’ describes the relationship between the general and his soldiers. The general does not experience the front line attacking and so does not understand what the soldiers go through. He is harsh with them and doesn’t take to account about how they feel and how they are coping. The General was determined to win the war and so drummed as much energy into the soldiers as he possibly could. This was an advantage to the soldiers, as they needed to be kept on their feet with positive attitudes, leading them towards success.

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Now the Soldiers he smiled at are most of em dead’ suggests the general’s character is friendly, but he does not think of the soldiers as humans. Sassoon expresses the message that the general is sending out to his soldiers. The final two lines of the poem are sarcastic. From this poem, you can tell that there are a lot of criticisms made towards the generals. I feel the general was to blame for the fate of the soldiers because he was the one who forced them to fight up front and without his influence they would have not attended there.

The Generals dominant, unjust behavior caused the death of his soldiers. The long pause in the before the last line of the poem indicates irony towards the General. In this poem, Sassoon uses soldiers’ slang such as ‘swine. ‘ By doing this, it gives the audience knowledge of the background and social class of the soldiers. Using slang is effective in this poem and adds force. ‘Suicide in the trenches’ is a very powerful poem. It tells the audience about the stress and torment the soldiers went though, ending up at breaking point and not being able to take the strain any more.

They end their lives thinking it’s for the best for them so that they can rest in peace and leave the nightmare behind them. Sassoon wrote this poem with bitterness and sorrow, putting all his emotion into it, for he too had been there himself. In the first verse, Sassoon uses simple language, which describes a soldier who ‘grinned at life in empty joy,’ meaning that he is happy with his life. Sassoon describes the depressive life of the soldiers and how they turned to alcohol, which acts as a depressant, taking away the soldiers intelligence. This abuse of alcohol drove them to suicide as they depended on it.

In the last verse, Sassoon is talking to the audience. He is angry about how they think that the soldier’s lives were a bed of roses and looking on them with ‘kindlingeye,’not accepting that these incidents occurred. ‘Sneak home and pray you’ll never know’ quotes that they are lucky and should be grateful that they never experienced such conditions. He treats the audience like hypocrites, targeting his anger onto them. ‘Does it matter? ‘ includes a sarcastic statement to Sassoon’s readers. The fact is that one would care if they lost any part of their body, meaning by Sassoon that it obviously would matter to the person.

I feel that Sassoon is deliberately doing this to make an attack on followers of the war. Sassoon in his heart wants to help the sick and the injured, letting his audience know what disasters occurred. In this poem, Sassoon is drawing anger towards the war. In his verses, he is giving sympathy towards the soldiers, wanting to help them. He tells the audience of his poem just how bad the war was, clearly reflecting that it makes people feel guilty of how they do not realize the torture and pain the soldiers went through.

There is such splendid work for the blind;’ quotes a sarcastic meaning here. The attitude of Sassoon here indicates that whether you are blind, deaf or disabled in any shape or form you can still be of use to the world which I feel is arrogant by Sassoon as he does not have to live and experience the torment of being disabled. In this poem, Sassoon is attacking a positive attitude, telling the soldiers all is not over for them as they can still be of use. I find the final verse most striking. It is a flashback of the nightmares the soldiers experienced in the war.

He is saying that now all that can be put behind you and forgotten for they can now drink and be merry now the war is over. He is reassuring the soldiers that no one will insult them for they are grateful to them that they saved them and fought for their country. Sassoon compares the past to today. ‘And people won’t say you’re mad’ which people possibly called them in the time of the war, but their attitudes have now changed towards them for without the soldiers, who knows what terrible events could be happening in this country today? Would the country be controlled by some dictator?

They have that to be thankful for. ‘The Hero’ expresses the contrast between a mother’s opinion of her dead son and the different opinion’s of the son’s fellow officer’s. Whilst reading this poem I felt compassion and sympathy towards the mothers who had lost their nearest and dearest during the war. In the third verse, Sassoon changes the style of the poem. It is if he has changed his mind about the dead for it contains abusive language about the dead boy, thus calling him a ‘useless swine. ‘ Sassoon does this to protest against the way the soldiers were opinionated and treated.

I think that Sassoon feels that it is his role to tell the mothers who lost their sons, the truth about what happened. From his experience of being a soldier, he may have witnessed seeing a general act this way and so feels it is his duty to follow the lead. ‘Great Men’ is a sarcastic poem, describing the men who seemed to stay out of the fireball of the war as weak and cowardly. Sassoon is angry that the real fighters of the war gain little respect while the others who stayed out of it get all the credit. The second verse, in my view contradicts the first because sarcasm is used more and harsher than in the first verse.

He is telling the marshals and ministers to stop and think about treating the ‘real fighters’ and to start paying them respect and gratitude. Sassoon dislikes the way the Ministers, Princes and ‘Great Men’ of a high status have a high opinion of themselves. Sassoon quotes, ‘Why can’t you keep your mouthings for the dead? ‘ meaning that why don’t these people talk and express their thanks and thoughts about the soldiers to the nation instead of them receiving all the glory when in truth and honesty should belong to the soldiers who lost their lives for their country.

Go round the simple cemeteries; and then talk of our noble sacrifice and losses to the wooden crosses’ quotes that the ‘Great Men’ should visit the soldiers graves and apologize for their behavior against them which makes these last two lines of the poem forceful. Out of all of the poems by Sassoon, I find ‘The Hero’ to be the most striking. The use of language that Sassoon uses to put his message across is very convincing. The poem involves the reader, making them feel thankful for not experiencing such trumours.

Sassoon has a clear way of making his audience place themselves into the mothers’ position, which I felt bereavement when reading. Sassoon wrote this poem with a lot of depth and the impact it has is very strong. The issue of ‘death’ and ‘loss’ is a very traumatic experience for people. People, who have experienced death, can relate to the mother’s feelings towards their dead sons. In all of Sassoon’s poems, the final verses are all protesting against the war. Sassoon gives all the last verses the most impact.

He does this so that the audience remembers the rebellious accusations Sassoon has on the war and to give the ends of the poem a climax. He mentions the soldiers and how unfairly they are thought of, for they deserve much more respect and gratitude for what they have done. Sassoon is angry with the ungratefulness of his audience. I think that he feels the soldiers should be rewarded with a higher status than that of the Ministers and ‘Great Men’ for it takes a brave and compassionate man to take his own life for his country.