Futility: Sonnet and Life Essay

Submitted By Aadam-sheikh
Words: 453
Pages: 2

Futility (Wilfred Owen)
Main ideas/themes
A dead man is moved to a place under the sun in the hope he can be revived as he had always been woken by the sun during his life time. This is a futile exercise as he will never wake up.

The poem achieves two things; firstly, it is a lament for the loss of a colleague and secondly, it is a reflection on the pointlessness (futility) of life itself.

It is also an ironic play on the idea of ‘fertility’ – an essential quality needed for the progression of life. War entirely contradicts the idea of fertility.

This is a lyric poem (a poem that expresses personal and emotional feelings). It is also a sonnet poem which again, adds a touch of irony, because sonnets are traditionally about love, not death.

Other Techniques

Personification: The sun is the central image of the poem. It is presented as a warm, positive, life giving force which brought the earth to life: ‘Woke once the clays of a cold star’. It is personified as ‘whispering’, ‘kind’ and even wise; ‘’will know’. At the end however, it is blamed for bringing about all the pain and suffering on earth.

There are contrasting temperature images in the poem; ‘sun’/ ‘snow’/’cold’/ ‘warm’- this is perhaps a symbol for life and death.

The poet starts by addressing the soldiers directly: ‘Move him into the sun’, but then he seems to start talking to himself in a reflective way.

The tone is a changing one in this poem; in the first stanza, the tone is soft and gentle, but in the second it becomes puzzled as the speaker…