Power and Conflict



Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Looks at the horror of warfare.

Context - WW1 began in 1914 and at first it was predicted that it would be over swiftly. However, as both sides dug trenches across France and belgium, the two armies became locked in stalemate that neither side could break.

By winter 1917 both sides had sustained massive losses and extreme cold weather made the misert even worse. It was said to be the coldest winter in livining memory.

Soldiers suffering - hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot (crippling disease caused by feet being wet, cold and being in boots for days on end)

Owen and his fellow soldiers were forced to lie outside in freezing conditions for two days.

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Exposure - context 2

He wrote: "We were marooned in a frozen desert. There was not a sign of life on the horizon and a thousand signs of death...The marvel is we did not all die of cold."

It was against this background that Owen wrote Exposure.

Owen and a number of other poets at that time used their writing to inform people back in Britain about the horros of the war and in particular about life on the front line. The picture they painted contradicted the scenes of glory that were being portrayed by the British press.

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Exposure - How does Owen present the horrors of wa


Overview - Two different aspects - the war itself and the conditions they are trying to survive in, first-person perspective based on direct experience.

The fighting - noise, the endless waiting for something to happen, use of alliteration.

The weather - weather is a central theme, the freezing conditions are potentially more dangerous than the fighting and the use of long vowel sounds (assonance) echoes the brutal force of the weather.

Sense of despair - inevitable feelings that death will be the result; use of half rhyme is unsettling.

Language - Owen uses emotive language to draw the reader in and make them part of the experience. He wants the reader to be angry about what is happening. A personal poem demanding a personal response.

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Exposure - Key quotes interpretation

'Our brains ache' - The soldiers are in physical pain

The constant noise of the guns and the bitter wind causes headaches.

Furthermore, the 'pain; represents the psychological effects. The noise and horror of war has caused PTSD/shell shock - mental illness.

"...in the merciless iced east winds that knive us..." - pathetic fallacy - aggressive language 

Owen focuses on the weather to show how they are suffering. He has used lots of figurative language and literacy techniques to portray the cold and the soldiers' feelings.

Firstly, Owen applies personifcation to describe how the cold wind injures them 'knive us'.

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Exposure - compares with

Wilfred Owen's poem is about the power of ... so it can link to The Prelude, Ozymandias, Kamikaze and Storm on the Island.

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