‘The good man is the friend of all living things’ – Wilfred Owen analysis


The good man is the friend of all living things” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Focus: In what ways does Wilfred Owen present his thoughts and feelings about war through nature and agricultural language in his poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and other selected works?

Wilfred Owen, regarded as being the leading poet for the First World War, is eminent for his blunt and unequivocal views on war he is exceptionally successful in conveying the harsh reality and brutality of not just World War One but of war on a universal scale. In his poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ Owen passes judgement on his experience of war and uses the poem as a lament for the dead. Written in a sonnet format with a rhyme scheme very close to that of Shakespeare’s, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’s’ form reflects Owens’s anger with its use of irony through the sonnet…

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The MANSIZE Companion to R.C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End.

To all my Journey’s End readers, this i found useful.


[MANSIZE is Tychy’s student support resource, which provides an alternative to the English Literature study aids on the BBC’s “Bitesize” website. Rather than regarding GCSE and Higher students as babies, who must be spoon fed “bite sized” portions of information, Tychy treats them like men, who are adult enough to deal with complex arguments and serious literary criticism. Ed.]


Robert Cedric Sherriff would make his name and fortune from Journey’s End, which was first staged in 1928 and thereafter adapted for Broadway, film, and television. This play proved to be Sherriff’s passport to professional writing, but perhaps he was a bit too professional, for along with penning the screenplays for such cinematic classics as Goodbye Mr. Chips and The Dam Busters, he ultimately submitted a cheerful but undistinguished series of historical dramas, mysteries, and ghost stories. There must have been audiences for these plays…

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Birdsong : Sebastian Faulks


There are parts of this book which are brilliant and then there are sections you just want to hurry up and finish so that you can get back to the good stuff. Set before the start of the First World War this is the story and love story between Stephen and Jeanne. However,the First World War is the biggest ‘character’ that looms in the book.

The early part of the book concerns the love story between a young English man Stephen and the French married woman he shouldn’t be loving, Jeanne. The love affair is everything you want, passionate, torrid,sexy and forbidden. The sex scenes are good. This type of writing is so hard to get right. They can so easily sound comic or ridiculous, but Faulks writes them well, so they are read as sexy and passionate. The urgency the couple have to practice adds to the desperation of…

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Birdsong reviews

So yer, while scouring the internet, I’ve come across a couple of review articles which hey ho you could find by just typing in “birdsong reviews”, nevertheless i thought that a few links would be here if you were to see the post. Enjoy.




with thanks from authors of articles, hope it helps.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Book Snob

Birdsong is brilliant. It’s not the most beautiful or lyrically written novel in the world, but it’s not trying to be. What it excels at is being a fantastic piece of storytelling; gripping, evocative, emotionally engaging, cleverly plotted with complex characters; I adored every minute, even though it was often painful to read.

The novel opens in Amiens in 1910, then a prosperous provincial town on the Somme, filled with shady avenues, large stone houses and cobbled courtyards dappled with sunlight. Stephen Wraysford, a twenty year old orphan who works in the textile industry, has come to Amiens on a business trip. He is staying with the owner of the town’s largest textile factory, Rene Azaire, and his family, consisting of his young wife Isabelle and his two children. Stephen is immediately arrested by Isabelle, who has an unconventional beauty and a whimsical personality. On his first night in the…

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Birdsong is a novel written about WWI by Sebastien Faulks. It follows the life of Stephen Wraysford, in pre-war times as well as during the war. The novel also talks about his granddaughter’s life, Elizabeth and how she looks back at her Grandfathers experiences. Through the novel we see Stephen fall in love, have this love and his heart destroyed and then have his life further destroyed by the chaos and destruction of war.

At the start of the novel Faulks’ language and imagery echoes much of the works from the likes of Keats and Blake as In this part of the novel we see Romanticism to be a rather dominant factor overall. Faulks is very expressive as he uses a rather large amount of words that have sexual connotations, such as: ‘thrust’ and ‘plunge’. These connotations are put in place to remind the reader of the essence of life which is where the irony comes into play, as the novel is about the WWI, a war full of death and sadness of a whole new magnitude.

Romanticism is stressed even further by the imagery and language of nature. The very first paragraph in the novel is a very illustrious description of the gardens near Boulevard Du Cange, ‘Patches of grass and wild flowers lay beneath the branches of overhanging trees’. Faulks’ description of the Somme is almost like he’s describing one of Monet paintings and seems to set the scene for a romantic and loving period that will be shared between Isabelle and Stephen. However we know that War will have a disastrous effect on this stunning landscape when it begins. These very gardens and the river that runs through it will become change from a place which is full of life, old and new, to a place of despair that will see many young men perish very quickly.

The novel takes a shift from Romanticism to Gothic horror in the second part of the novel as Faulks language changes from the very illustrious and beautiful gardens to the very gruesome and gore that war has residing with it and the very reality of war that many people at home never witnessed and could not even imagine.

War has a dehumanising effect on soldiers and Faulks shows how this effect causes a heap of problems for the young soldiers during the war. Faulks gives each soldier their own backgrounds, families, wives and girlfriends so when these men who we seem to get attached to, do die, we feel remorse. Faulks, using letters home, increases the sadness of war to an even further extent, as many soldier’s letters were the only things left of them after they were torn apart from bullets. These men would have been all sorts of relations from fiancée to Dad, best friend to Uncle fighting for our country without really knowing why they were there let alone how they were going to survive, and this is a message that Faulks seems to want to drill in to the reader.

The character of Stephen Wraysford is that of a rather unusual one as many claim that the war had a substantial effect on Stephen which in turn damaged him mentally, yet by looking deeper into Stephens character we can see that he was an orphan, and therefore felt that he would never be loved, this is further intensified through his relationship with Isabella which ends in despair and thus seems to highlight that he was already a susceptible character before the war. Despite all of this Stephen is still a captain in the armed forces, which opens the question to, whether Faulks maybe underlining the misconception that the men fighting in the war were of those that were ‘strong and tough’ whereas in actual truth these men were just young and feeble. Stephen is an example of this as he shared the very characteristics that the other soldiers had while fighting in the Great War.

With the first part being about the lovely, elegant land and the idea of love blooming changing very quickly as we enter part 2 which shows the grotesque and gruesome reality of war we see Faulks show us the very effect of war and how love and loyalty become all but privileges when war occurs. By part 3 we meet Elizabeth who seemingly there to show the long term effects of the war as the scars left do not usually heal.

Elizabeth seeks out to find the other soldiers who fought alongside her grandfather Stephen and By doing this Faulks is able to highlight some of the long term effects of this war. Her escapade ends up with her finding out that Stephen, ‘spoke little’. She then meets with Brennan, one of Stephen’s comrades who know suffers from a condition then known as ‘Shell Shock’. Brennan can only seem to remember the odd moment of the war which aren’t very intelligible. Tom Brennan, a man who only a few pages back was alongside fighting within the trenches has now been reduced to a frail old man. By showing Brannan in this state only a few pages after, Faulks give emphasis on how some soldiers were able to come home after living the tale and yet not being able to tell the very tale as they did not want to relive, let alone dwell on these memories. These few years in which these men had gone to war had very well scarred them and caused a rather substantial amount that many men whatever age could never really recover from, as many of the men suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Birdsong and its techniques

Going through the first chapter of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks a lot of techniques and references are made, and here are a slight few:


At the very start of the novel, Faulks sets a scene of pure beauty with the house in which Stephen meets the Azaire family. The setting is much alike the Garden of Eden from the bible, a place so marvellous and spectacular as it was created personally by God himself. This house is found near the Somme, a place that is well renowned as a place of destruction and horror as in WW1 thousands of men were lost to gunfire and artillery in a matter of days, but in the first few paragraphs Faulks describes a beautiful, romantic paradise which is what the Somme was typically like before the war. The romanticism is still quite frequent even through the industrialisation as the beauty of the land never seems to fade.

War vocabulary

During Stephens conversation with the Azaires, there is a couple of words that we could relate to war, for example the words “Retrench” and “Assault” can be associated with words used on the topic of war. These words are likely used to foreshadow the monstrosity that was yet to come to Europe as trench warfare was about to end thousands/millions of lives.

industrial vocabulary

Not only does War vocabulary spring up as industrial vocabulary also arises in the conversation as the Azaires seem to be more of an industrial as they make fortune through the industrial revolution. The phrases like “production with so many separate processes” make the connection to one of the biggest economic events in British history as the industrial revolution helped mould the society of today.

WW1 Poetry as a Genre?

Nimbus Type40

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last week! I have been writing blogs however my internet connection on holiday down south wasn’t letting me upload things *shakes fist* – so unfortunately you’ll probably now get quite a few blogs over this weekend!! Lets begin with discussing whether WW1 poetry is it’s own genre!

To discuss whether WW1 poetry is a genre in itself is very difficult, and would mean that we’d have to compare the techniques with all genres to check that it doesn’t fit in any other genre. Now I don’t have time to do such a thing amongst reading books for next year and such, and thus the easiest way to determine the likelihood of WW1 poetry being a genre is to compare it with other war poetry. A poetic genre is a category of poems that share stylistic devices and techniques! To save the trouble…

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The Doubt of A Soldier

Who was I before the war,
Who will I be after the war,
Will I ever make it out of this trench,
All I know is I’m stuck in hell as
each question ponders in my mind.

Do those at home remember me,
Does my picture still remind them of me,
Does the title of hero associate with me still,
All I know is I’m stuck in hell as
each question ponders in my mind.

Am I really a soldier,
Are any of us really soldiers,
Does this make any difference to the generals,
God knows or maybe he doesn’t,
yet each question still ponders in my mind.

The Similarities between Michael Morpugos’s “Private and Peaceful” and Wilfred Owen’s poetry

Similarities are bound to arise on the subject of war, whether it be about World War 1, World War 2 or even the Vietnamese war, attitudes are generally the same. I will be discussing the similarities of themes and devices used between 2 of Owens poetry and the film ‘Private and Peaceful’.

Where else to start than one of Owens most renowned poems, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’. Owen mocks people that seem to believe the ‘old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ which refers to the act to die for king and country. This ‘act’ is not seen as the best way to go according to Owen. The Colonel in ‘Private and Peaceful’ is one example of the people that Owen is trying to mock as he seems to be the image of patriotism and believes his men are doing the right to die for their country.

Another similarity found between the poem and the film is the mention of gas and the struggles that is followed by the warnings and even during its looming.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

It doesn’t take to much to try and understand and comprehend what happened to the poor men who don’t get there mask on in time as well as the fear to the survivors what may soon be their fate.
Within the film however we get a visual perspective on the fear and struggle as in one scene the warning of gas causes upheaval as the men choke and splutter as they apply their masks.

‘Futility’ is another one of Owens poems we can extract shared themes and devices that entwine with the ‘Private and Peaceful’. Futility, the title itself will most indefinitely indicate what the poems subject is, how it is achieved so well by Owen is through the method of mixing religious and evolutionary vocabulary ‘was it for this the grey grew tall’. Questioning the futileness of war is done in the poem and can also be found in ‘Private and Peaceful’ as early on in the film Tommo, while in a prison cell, asks ‘Why does this war happen’ as if to say what is the point of this, as well as this he is also bitter due to the loss of his father. In this scene also is Tommo’s loss of faith as why did God let him die, loss of faith is quite frequent throughout Owens poetry and most so in Futility.

Other themes grasped can also be loss of faith