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Hi can I please get feedback for this essay and whether it would get an Excellence or not?

Question: Analyse how language features created a strong narrative voice within a text/s

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and The Soldier by Rupert Brooke enhance a strong narrative voice throughout the use of language features. These essentially include rhetorical devices and indications of a future event known as foreshadowing. Both poets share contrasting ideas in which Brooke sentimentalises the grim reality of war. However, Owen explores the harrowing implications of death in a warzone.

The Soldier opens with, “If I should die, think only this of me.” Instantly, the soldier’s desire to be remembered is prominently expressed. The bold statement instantly demonstrates the point in such a way that it is stamped on the reader’s mind, therefore heightening the surprise effect. In fact, it really is a sense of foreshadowing as the poet incorporates intimations of his eventual death. Most of the time, foreshadowing elicits pessimistic undertones, hence developing suspense. However, rather than showing disparity, this figurative device establishes an encouraging tone, thereby supporting the soldier if he must sacrifice his life for the beloved nation. Brooke is willing to go to war knowing that there are apparent dangers, and that the likelihood of survival is exceptionally low. Yet, he is still confident that all the blessings that follow from being ‘English’ will be transferred into both the soil where his body will lie, and into the ‘eternal mind.’ His loyalty towards his homeland is expressed with such overwhelming confidence, that the reader is mesmerised into the notion of a glamorised death. He expresses this by saying, “That there’s some corner of a foreign field, that is for ever England.” Brooke reinforces an intensified narrative voice using alliteration. The soft fricative of ‘foreign field’ elevates the patriotism to a great extent which has really been the foregrounded metaphor throughout. Nightly, we watch on television news the horrors of Ukrainian suffering in Mariupol. We are constantly exposed to the pain and wounded limbs of the soldiers in the steelworks there; we also see the reaction of the survivors where civilians in small centers have been tortured and shot in the back. International law has been violated repeatedly, especially in the attack on many hospitals in both West and East Ukraine. All these images demonstrate that war cannot be painted simply as a nationalist sacrifice.

In the first stanza of Anthem, Owen asks the reader, “What passing bells for these who die as cattle?”. The rhetorical question with its simile compels the reader to visualise a startling image. The soldiers who are compared to “cattle” are like farmed animals who are brought into life only to grow big enough for their own slaughter. Accordingly, ‘passing bells’ are usually rung at funerals during the death of an individual in the tradition of the Church of England. Owen establishes an effective narrative by dramatising the endless killings of war thereby the reader can feel his anguish and fury. The combat in front of us is like a slaughterhouse, with hundreds of soldiers slain like livestock in this barbaric conflict. The rhetorical question is evocative of a distressing reaction within the reader and urges us to think of the dehumanizing sacrifice these soldiers have made in order to fight for their nation. Moreover, the simile makes us explicitly aware of the shocking yet direct comparison that is being made between animals and humans contributing to the immense pity felt when reading this line. Owen successfully conveys his gripping narrative of his own revelation at the lack of dignity and ritual which normally surrounds a human funeral and the fact that the death of these men is no more remarkable than cattle being killed in a slaughterhouse. All around the world, there are battles such as the Syrian dispute which has been ongoing since 2010. The Syrian government has been helped most conspicuously by Presidents Putin and Erdogan who have ceaselessly produced propaganda against America. Owen’s country of Britain generated propaganda to encourage the nation’s males to engage in military warfare. Similarly, Brooke was subjected to the propaganda effort of the British War Office like any other English citizen.

Owen’s title stings with its deep irony. The expression “Doomed Youth” appears to express a satirical approach because the word “doomed” is generally connected with destruction, which is accentuated in this poem by the loss of life in war to perpetuate national ambitions. However, the term “youth” is a sign of vitality and is frequently associated with a bright future. The juxtaposition of these two ideas startles the reader because of the innate contradiction that is being made. Quite clearly, the narrative voice of Owen builds potency as he points out the discrepancies between appearance and reality. A further example occurs when he writes, “The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells.” Again, Owen presents a contrast between a religious ceremony these young men could have anticipated in England, accompanied by the music of a choir and the morbid truth of exploding shells screaming around the dying men. Therefore, the entire poem lays bare to the reader as it questions the vanity of death and burial in France. In stark comparison, Brooke presents a glorified aura of war when he writes of, “Her [England’s] sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day.” These cheerful descriptions are eminently anodyne beside the sounds of Owen’s exploding shells. Owen presents the reader with the grim realities of conflict because his expressed aim in one of his letters to his mother is that he wanted to “convey the pity of war.” Nonetheless, Brooke’s narrative presents an individual’s everlasting devotion for one’s country by painting a picture of a richer dust enriching his soil and dignifying its Englishness even in his afterlife. The reader is able to sympathise for both men because Owen confronts the battlefield without avoidance, and Brooke because he faces trepidation by finding some way to demonstrate his stamp (“A body of England’s, breathing English air”) on the planet following his demise.

Overall, it may be said that both writers have an extensive arsenal of linguistic features which promote a compelling narrative voice within both texts. Because Owen is more concerned to pose war as problematic, his poem serves uses rhetorical questions as a key element. Even so, Brooke pursues a dream-like quality as he explores his own fate. This may be because of his short-lived exposure to bloodshed, primarily because he drew his last breath in 1915. Yet, Owen survived the merciless battle for an extended period until 1918. We can be reassured by its blander and more lyrical tone into accepting war as rather romantic.

Kia ora Izzywizzy,

With poetry and language feature questions, an Excellence-level essay will really unpack the evidence. Here’s an example:

When you use that first quote, “If I should die, think only of me” you have a good explanation of the purpose of the line (how the soldier wants to be remembered) but you haven’t analysed how that quote (through use of language) helped you reach that understanding. He’s used first person narrative voice, in combination with the imperative “think only this of me”. When you write how it foreshadows his death, you’re really commenting on the introductory phrase in that sentence, “If I should die.” Really dig into the language.

Phrases like, “it is stamped on the reader’s mind…” or “paints a picture in the reader’s mind” are very vague and are overused in essays. You’d need to back it up with the analysis of how it impacts the reader in that way.

Try and use as many language feature terms as you can. For example, “Doomed Youth” - you could dig into the adjective with negative connotations. I do like your point about the juxtaposition. This would have been stronger if you showed more awareness of how the language created the juxtaposition.

You’ve got a lot of ideas in your paragraphs but there could be more focus on the narrative voice. How do the poets develop it and how do they want the reader to respond to it. A good rule is to start and end each body paragraph with a clear answer to the question, using the key words from the question.

Your essay shows a good understanding of the ideas in the text but not convincing yet with the poets’ use of language features and awareness of what narrative voice is.

Kia pai tō mahi! :slight_smile: