WILFRED OWEN: ‘EXPOSURE’

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  • WILFRED OWEN: ‘EXPOSURE’
    • STRUCTURE
      • The stanza structure is in three parts:
        • Owen wants his reader to empathise with how thesoldiers felt: everything is tense and seemingly building to a climax, only to end up being nothing.
          • The eight verse repetition reflects the emotional roller coaster the soldiers were going through on adaily basis, exhausting the troops.
        • Each stanza begins with a blunt and powerful sentence:'Our brains ache, in the merciless iced eastwinds that knife us...'
          • These opening sentences are then followed by highly emotive vocabulary choices:'Wearied', 'low drooping', 'confuse', 'worried', 'curious' and 'nervous'.
            • Crucially, after dramatically heightening the tension, each stanza ends with an anti-climax:'But nothing happens'.
      • RHYME SCHEME:
        • The rhyme scheme is ABBAC throughout.
        • The way in which the first four rules establish a rhymepattern, only for it to be broken down in the final line, reflects the building momentum andanticipation of battle which is never realised.
        • The poet employs what is known as 'pararhyme'.
          • This is where two end of line words contain thesame consonant sounds but not the same vowels.
          • 'knive us' is a pararhyme with 'nervous'. The use of pararhyme gives apermanent sense of being nervously on edge.
      • CAESURA:
        • Lines 26-30 is the first time we see a full strop, in the middle of a paragraph.
          • This is in the stanza where the soldiers are thinking about their homes.
            • Thepunctuation usage creates a division on each line, reflecting the division caused by war betweenhome and the present setting for the soldiers in a freezing cold trench.
      • CYCLICAL STRUCTURE
        • The poem ends as it began, with the refrain'but nothing happens'. -the poem ends up back where it started, highlighting again the futility of the war.
    • LANGUAGE
      • PERSONIFICATION
        • Owen uses personification to highlight how weather is more dangerous than 'less deadly' bullets.
          • 'winds that knive us'  'mad gusts' 'Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army'          'air that shudders with black ice' 'pale flakes with ********* stealth faces'
        • he uses military imagery to describe the rain,which 'attacks once more in ranks'.
      • SIBILANCE:
        • "Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence Pale flakes with ********* stealth come feeling for our faces—"
          • A sinister sound is created,reminiscent of the hissing of a snake, reminds the reader of the constant threat of the environmentthe soldiers are in.
          • The sound can also be likened to the sound of bullets passing overhead, or thenoise the shivering soldiers would make.

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