Literary Criticism/Comparison Exercises
Comparison Exercise 1
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
(a) "How sad it is!" murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . . If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that--for that--I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!" The painter stared in amazement. It was so unlike Dorian to speak like that. What had happened? He seemed quite angry. His face was flushed and his cheeks burning. "Yes," he continued. “How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle, I suppose. I know, now, that when one loses one's good looks, whatever they may be, one loses everything. Your picture has taught me that. Lord Henry Wotton is perfectly right. Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself." Hallward turned pale and caught his hand. "Dorian! Dorian!" he cried, "don't talk like that. I have never had such a friend as you, and I shall never have such another. You are not jealous of material things, are you?-- you who are finer than any of them!" "I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day- mock me horribly!"
Excerpt from Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately.
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candle or the moon.
I see her back. I reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and the agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the terrible darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.
Questions and Suggested Answer to Comparison Exercise 1
1)How do Dorian Gray and the persona in the poem feel about their appearance?
Dorian Gray is a narcissist and he regards his appearance, his young look - as "the only thing worth having", and sees that "when one loses one's good looks", "one loses everything". When he looks into the portrait of himself, he suddenly feels that he will be ageing and he will lose his youth and this clearly scares him. He desires to look young forever, he simply cannot stand seeing himself grow to be an old man, we can see his desire to "stay young" in "When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself". He is willing to sacrifice everything in order to protect his youth, or in other words, look better in appearance. We can see that he is getting mad as he discovers he would eventually grow old one day, he would rather sacrifice his "soul", and he even gets angry at the portrait as it can remain "young" forever. He believes his own portrait would "mock" him "horribly" one day, when he finds that he himself becomes an old man. He sees an appearance with "youth" above all things.
The woman in the poem "Mirror" has great dislike on her appearance. Like Dorian Gray, she has seen her trueself in the "lake"(mirror) as it reflects her appearance "faithfully". However when she comes face to face with her actual appearance, she "rewards" the "lake" with "tears" and "the agitation of hands", clearly shows that her hatred for her appearance, which is, probably very ugly and not pleasing. Both Dorian Gray and the woman are very much concerned about their appearances, however, Dorian Gray still views himself very perfect at the moment, the reason why he feels unhappy is that he realizes that someday he would grow "old", "horrible" and "dreadful", but the portrait would remain the same forever. For the woman in "Mirror", she apparently dislikes her appearance a lot and because of this, she turns to the "liars" - the "candle" or the "moon", which never tell who she really is, she rejects the "faithful" lake which reveals her true appearance.
2)What kind of relationship is there between Dorian and his portrait, and between the mirror and the woman it belongs to?
Dorian compares his own appearance to that of his portrait. He envies his portrait for escaping age and change in the appearance. He is "jealous" of the portrait, and wishes to have things "the other way round", to have himself staying the same and the portrait to grow old and ugly. He is also angry, for he know that his portrait's beauty will out live his own. "His face (is) flushed and his cheeks burning" when he thinks about this. The portrait helps Dorian to realize that someday he will "grow old, and horrible, and dreadful", it arouses his terrible fear for growing old and that his "beauty", which he treasures so much, which is the reason why people love him, will die. A portrait is supposed to be admired and loved by its owner, but Dorian's portrait, on the contrary, not only rouses its owner's jealousy and hatred, but also gave its owner the idea of fear and death. Dorian, after looking at his own portrait, is filled with fear, and in this fear, he gets the idea to "kill" himself when he finds himself growing old. To Dorian, the portrait is a threat. As a narcissist, he treasures his youth more than anything, even life. Dorian imagines that the portrait is taking his beauty from him, so as to keep the youth shown in the portrait. Dorian cannot stand the portrait existing with himself, it is his enemy. It shows him the reality and the truth, which he doesn't want to face, it will "mock him someday".
By thinking of the way Oscar Wilde put the conversation between Dorian Gray and his portrait,and involving myself in the similar position,i shouldn't agree with the fact that Dorian's hate lies behind the conversation.It is hard to believe that a young person could not admire to own beautiful picture,so it led me to think another way about it.I suppose that Dorian's dissatisfaction and dialogue is just Oscar Wilde's idea to start the novel's main plot-unbelievable story about handsome Dorian who stay young for years while his matches grow old.It is also the key moment to make up for the presence of Devil,who no one has been mentioned in the book,one fantastic idea,that Oscar achieved by means of this introduction dialog led by Dorian and his portrait.
The mirror is very "important" to the woman in the poem. It shows "no preconceptions", like a faithful friend telling her the truth without bias. The girl has to rely on the mirror to know and "search" for "what she really is". It has become her habit to look into the mirror "each morning" to look at her own reflection throughout the years. The mirror and the girl are like good friends, friends that know each other for a long time.By showing the girl her reflection "unmisted by love or dislike", the mirror shows the girl her face, turning from "a young girl" to "an old woman". The girl is saddened by her old and ugly reflection shown in the mirror and "rewards" the mirror's faithfulness with "tears" and "the agitation of hands". The mirror gives the girl sadness and frustration through showing the girl her true reflection.
3)Compare how Dorian sees himself with how the other people in the passage see him. Compare the mirror's attitude with that of the woman.
Dorian sees himself as being young and good-looking at the time of speaking, but he knows well that good looks do not last forever. He thinks it will fade away and eventually he will dislike his own look, and people will also dislike him. By then his portrait will be a horrible contrast to his shrivelled look when he is old. However his friend Hallward thinks that beauty does not rely on good outward appearance, but what is inside, he knows that Dorian is a person deeper than what material matter means to him.in fact all human are more superior than materials because they've got a soul and a mind. He knows that even when Dorian grows old, he will still like him as a friend.
Similarly, the woman looking in the mirror has noticed the problem of her ageing, yet the mirror is almost emotionless, it can judge things with no "preconceptions", it does not feel anything towards the woman's fading youth. She noticed that she has changed from a innocent young girl to an old lady who has experience all the dark side of human nature, the hypocrisy of people. Looking into the mirror she realized that she is no longer the old her. The mirror's calmness and the woman's sadness is a contrast. The mirror reflects the truth, and it has no much feelings. However, her reaction towards the fact shown in the mirror is vigorous. She cries and complains about the reality with "the agitation of hands".
4)Do the passages invite you to be sympathetic towards or critical of the characters? How would you describe the tone of each passage?
For A, the passage doesn't make us feel sympathetic towards the character, but for B, it gains our sympathy. This is because the tone and perspective of the main character of the two passage are different. For A, the character feels angry for knowing he will look ugly and old, "He seemed quite angry. His face was flushed and his cheeks burning." he points out that youth is the "the only thing worth having", and express to us that he agrees that he is perfect now. and He is afraid of being old and he is " jealous of everything whose beauty does not die". The fact that he is being too proud, too arrogant towards his appearance make readers dislike his character. The way he shows hatred and admit to his jealousy shows his shallow-mindedness and superficiality, thus readers do not feel sympathetic towards his desires to be forever young.
For B, the poem invites our sympathy. The mirror gives a reflection of how the woman has a low self opinion of herself and how helpless she feels when she sees her true self. "Tears" fall and her hand "agitates" display her utter state of sadness. She doesn't even have the courage to come out in the light, as the poem describes how she "turns to those liars, the candle or the moon" and escaping from the mirror. The image the poem creates is one that is void of light. In the line "drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman" implying that the woman feels much older than she is and has buried any signs of her youth and has become an "old" woman. The woman feels inferior and does not have the courage to face life gains readers' sympathy.the agitations of her hands and the tears created her a helpless fragile image.She cannot avoid getting old, nor change the darkness she experienced. Perhaps the most pathetic part is that its her experience in life, the darkness she experienced all these years that make her old and sad. the mirror is truthful, time is fair, everyone gets old and many of them will accept aging as a natural process. the woman failed to accept the reality and her life remain miserable. this may arouse reader's sympathy.
However, we can also look it from a different perspective. We can feel sympathetic towards Dorian and critical towards the woman.
In the prose passage, Dorian shows his indulgence in his beauty. His eccentric addiction and his narcissism easily portrait him as a mad man (and in fact he does turn mad when his wish is granted and the portrait grows old instead of him). To readers, he may seem rather silly as to make a wish that the portrait will grow old instead of himself. He is a man who is too obsessed with his own beauty. Readers all know that ageing is natural, and is a process what we must all experience, yet Dorian rejects the laws of nature and thinks that looking old and ugly is "sad". Moreover, he makes the impractical wish of hoping that his soul can be exchanged for his youth. His indulgence will may arouse readers' sympathy.
In the poem, the woman is reluctant to face the reality. She first searches for "what she really is", and when she finds out the ugly truth that her prime of life cannot stay forever, she "turns to those liars", candles and moon, who are changeable and has no fixed state, on the contrary of the mirror which is "exact", to comfort herself. Yet she "comes and goes", she wants to accept the fact but every time she lacks the courage and turns her back to it. She keeps repeating the action, escaping from the reality while deep down she knows she needs the mirror to tell her the truth. Her hesitation and fickleness may annoy readers thus feeling critical towards the woman.
Comparison Exercise 2
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
a) The author describes the experience of accompanying a Burmese prisoner to his execution while he worked with the British Colonial Police Force in Burma in the 1920s.
It was about forty yards to the gallows . I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily. At each step, his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves into the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path. It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying; he was alive just as we are alive. All the organs in his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.
From ‘Burmese Days’ by George Orwell (1903-1950)
b) In this blues song, Allen describes the bodies of black Americans who have been killed by racist gangs.
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Lewis Allen (1890 – 1954)
Suggested Answer to Comparison Exercise 2
1) Are we invited to empathise with the victims in these passages or to feel alienated from them?
Both passages invite the readers to empathise with the victims.
In the first prose written by George Orwell, Orwell gives a detailled description of the prisoner to be executed and the process of proceeding to the gallows. By describing the "bare brown back" readers are told that the prisoner's upper torso must be naked. He does not even have clothes on. The diction of "marching" seems to suggest the dignity he still holds and that he has accepted the fact that he cannot rebel, and his only choice is to accept his fate. That he is walking himself closer to his death step by step makes us empathize with him. Orwell describes the experience of sending the man to death as "the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting life short when it is in full tide", showing his sense of guilt and sympathy towards the prisoner. He also suggests the prisoner is actually "not dying", he is "alive" like everyone of us; the seconds in his life go on, still all the same as all men on Earth, "walking together", "seeing", "feeling", "understanding the same world".
The only twist is, "in two seconds" and "a sudden snap", the prisoner would be gone, and "one mind less, one world less" - we lost a men in our world within such swiftness, one less man to share our mind and world. Orwell points out the cruelty of death.
Looking at the context of the political situation in Burma, this prisoner was probably a political prisoner who is persecuted under the barbaric regime. During the time period, hundreds of Burmese prisoners were tortured and killed each day. Genocide against minority nations on the borders took place, as well as the imprisonment and killing of people who dared to speak the truth about the political situation. This is similar to the blues song, where innocent people are persecuted of their identity. Because these people have not done anything wrong but are killed, this rouses readers' sympathy.
In the blues song, Allen compares the dead bodies of black Americans to a "strange fruit". Allen describes the scene of dead bodies in details; "blood" on the bodies which are "hanging" and "swinging" from the poplar tress in the southern breeze. By describing the horrible scene, "bulging eyes and the twisted mouth" and with smell of "burning flesh", the black Americans are killed without any sympathy from others, and they die painfully, the author points out the the cruelty of the cold-blooded racists; he condemns them as what they have done destroy the peace in the "gallant south", contrasted with the original serenity, as depicted in "sweet and fresh" and "scent of magnolias". The originally peaceful pastures are no longer peaceful now, the blood of the "strange fruit" - "strange", as of an odd colour, in the racists' eyes - shed on them, and the tragedy will continue, for there will always be other races and more racists who will persecute people different from them--"here is a strange and bitter crop".
As the two passages both portray the pain and suffering of the victims, it is reasonable to assume that the authors are to arouse readers' sympathy and invite the readers to empathize with them.
2) How is imagery used in each passage?
In the first passage, one imagery used is the “puddle”, the prisoner stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path. On one hand it shows that he is mentally and physically healthy and vigilant, on the other hand the puddle may foreshadow his doomed fate of being executed, and that his vain attempts to avoid the puddles will not be able to help him to escape from it. The “yellow gravel” and “grey walls” paint a picture of the monotonous splashes of colours at the prison, or perhaps the image may relate to grave (which is a symbol of death).This emphasizes the fact that the prisoner is doomed, and providing a touch of depression or death by making use the dull colours.
In the second passage, “strange fruit” bore by the southern trees is the symbol of the black people (strange as in different in skin colour) that will be ruthlessly killed. There is "blood on the leaves" and "blood at the root", depicting the large amounts of blood shed by these poor black people who have lost their lives to racists.
3) Which passage do you find more shocking? Why?
The poem is more shocking. The atmosphere is mysterious and creepy, and the moment of "scent of magnolias" being replaced by "smell of burning flesh" is a twisting point. It indicates how a life is beaten by death in a glimpse. Also, "blood on the leaves" and "blood at the root" is a description of an unusual scene, it makes readers feel uncomfortable. Especially when he poet uses the "strange fruit" to symbolize the heads of the black people being hanged. The prose passage is a description of a prison on the way to execution, the author's feelings are what usual people will feel about the scene, so it does not surprise readers much. Comparing to it, the poet uses irony to emphasize his detestation to the racists irrational killings of black people.
What is the author's stance in each passage?
The author of the prose passage does not think the prisoner deserves death. When the prisoner avoids stepping on the puddle, the author realizes that he is same as any of the others. He sees what others see. The author thinks sentencing a healthy men to death is an "unspeakable wrongness" and inhumane. He thinks all human beings are equal, there is no difference among any of us as human beings, and executing men is taking away one's right to live. He is sad to see a healthy man being executed, as he thinks he is as important as any other human beings, to the author, the death of the Burmese prisoner means "one world less".
Although the poet seems to be a calm narrator, he actually feels sad for the black people and thinks it is brutal to kill them. The author shows how he thinks about black people in stanza 2. "Pastoral" and "gallant" suggests that the author is being sarcastic, he is using some positive words 'praising' the scene of killed people being hanged all around. He describes the "bulging eyes" and "twited mouth" as "gallant", which shows his sadness and sympathy towards the black people. Here the author presented his unpleasant feeling, he disagrees on the act of killing black people. The scene described after the tree being destroyed is unpleasant, crows will "pluck", wind will "suck", sun will "rot" the fruit. It is a place where people will not want to get near to. Through the unpleasant atmosphere created in the poem, we can see that the poet doesn't think killing black people because of racial discrimination is right.
4) Can you find instances of contrast and irony? What effect do they have?
Contrast can be seen in A. When the prisoner still alive, the author describes his moments, how his muscles and his body functioned in detailed. "muscles slid nearlty into plave", "the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down", "bowels digesting food"," skin renewing itself" etc, the detailed description of his body movement emphasizes the fact that he is still alive, still a living thing. A contrast will be formed when later on the author said " with a sudden snap", "one mind less, one world less", he just simply uses few words to describe when the prisoner dead, "one mind less, one world less", a contrast is created, when he is alive, author uses terms and different phrases, to depict it, however after the prisoner dead, no movement, living cell is dead already, so no need further explain of describe.
In passage B, "fruits" is used to compare and make a big contrast to the dead bodies of the defeated, because fruits are like new born lives, while the bodies are actually dead and their lives come to an end. It is also an irony in the sense that in the comparison, one thing is born (fruit), one thing is killed. In the scene which "bulging eyes and twisted mouth" is associated with "pastoral scene of the gallant south", is more ironic when human being who are supposed to gain respect from all things now being treated as an object or a fruit "for the crows to pluck, rain to gather, wind to suck, sun to rot, and trees to drop" The irony presented shows that dead bodies are useless and being treat as an object, gaining no respect. Or on the other hand, it shows that the poet think death as a trivial thing which doesn't need to be fear.
Comparison Exercise 3
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
Do you know the road I live in – Ellesmere Road, West Bletchley ? Even if you don’t, you know fifty others exactly like it.
You know how these streets fester all over the inner-outer suburbs. Always the same. Long, long rows of little semi-detached houses – the numbers in Ellesmere Road run to 212 and ours is 191 –as much alike as council houses and generally uglier. The stucco front, the creosoted gate, the privet hedge, the green front door. The Laurels, the Myrtles, the Hawthorns, Mon Abri, Mon Repos, Belle Vue . At perhaps one house in fifty some anti-social type who'll probably end up in the workhouse has painted his front door blue instead of green.
That sticky feeling round my neck had put me in a demoralized kind of mood. It’s curious how it gets you down to have a sticky neck. I had no illusions about myself that morning. It’s almost as if I could stand at a distance and look at myself coming down the road, with my fat, red face and my false teeth and my vulgar clothes. A chap like me is incapable of looking like a gentleman. Even if you saw me at two hundred yards’ distance, you’d know immediately – not, perhaps, that I was in the insurance business, but that I was some kind of tout or salesman.
The clothes I was wearing were practically the uniform of the tribe. Grey herring-bone suit, a bit the worse for wear, blue overcoat costing fifty shillings, bowler hat, and no gloves. ‘Five to ten quid a week’, you’d say as soon as you saw me. Economically and socially I’m about at the average level for Ellesmere Road.
From Coming Up For Air by George Orwell (1903-1950)
I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner;
I have a Slimline briefcase and I use the firm’s Cortina.
In every roadside hostelry from here to Burgess Hill
The maitres d’hotel all know me well and let me sign the bill.
You ask me what it is I do. Well actually, you know,
I’m partly a liaison man and partly P.R.O.
Essentially I integrate the current export drive
And basically I’m viable from ten o’clock till five.
I do some mild developing. The sort of place I need
Is a quiet country market town that’s rather run to seed.
A luncheon and a drink or two, a little savoir faire -
I fix the planning officer, the town clerk and the mayor.
And if some preservationist attempts to interfere
A ‘dangerous structure’ notice from the borough engineer
Will settle any buildings that are standing in our way –
The modern style, sir, with respect, has really come to stay.
John Betjeman (1906 – 1984)
Answers to Comparison Exercise 3
Comparison Exercise 4
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The Outpost Trench was about 200 yards from the main trench, which was now our front line. It had been solidly made, ten feet deep, with timbered fire-steps, splayed sides, and timbered steps at intervals to front and rear and to machine-gun emplacements. Now it was wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption. Concrete strong-posts were smashed, and tilted sideways; everywhere the chalky soil was pocked and pitted with huge shell-holes; and wherever we looked the mangled effigies of the dead were our memento mori . Shell-twisted and dismembered, the Germans maintained the violent attitudes in which they had died. The British had mostly been killed by bullets or bombs, so they looked more resigned. But I can remember a pair of hands (nationality unknown) which protruded from the soaked ashen soil like the roots of a tree turned upside down; one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture. Each time I passed that place the protest of those fingers became more expressive of an appeal to God in defiance of those who made the War. Who made the War? I laughed hysterically as the thought passed through my mud-stained mind. But I only laughed mentally, for my box of Stokes gun ammunition left me no breath to spare for an angry guffaw . And the dead were the dead; this was no time to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives. Such sights must be taken for granted, I thought, as I gasped and slithered and stumbled with my disconsolate crew. Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull.
From Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon
Answers to Comparison Exercise 4
Both (A) and (B) are about war. For (A), the line 'Take up our quarrel with the foe' suggests the dead died in the war. For (B), ' the War' is mentioned and the 'trench' and 'Germans' also suggest the Second World War. However, different attitudes towards wars are shown in the two sources. (A), written in the dead's point of view, supports the idea of wars. The dead died with regrets, as they 'shall not sleep' if the people who are alive 'break faith with [them]'. They wanted to take revenge against their enemies. They ask the ones who are alive to take 'the torch' which they throw to them. A completely different attitude is shown in (B), which is written in the point of view of a living person who once experienced the war. He asked 'who made the War', showing his disapproval of the War. He does not want to take revenge, as he says the 'dead were the dead'. He believes it is not the time 'to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives'.
The setting is also described in detail in (A) and (B). For (A), the whole of the first stanza is contributed to describe the 'Flanders field' in which the dead lie. For (B), the outpost trench is described in great details: the exact measurements of the depth of the trench, how far it was from the main trench, what it was made of etc. the settings are similar in a sense that they both are associated with death/destruction. The Flanders field is where the dead lie whereas the trench was where many lost their lives. But different moods are created by the two setting. For (A), the Flanders fields seem to be rather peaceful, with the 'poppies [blowing] between the crosses' and 'the lark, still bravely singing'. But for (B), the trench was 'wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption' and 'concrete srong-posts were smashed, and tilted sideways;...' Things are destroyed in the war and it creates a gloomy feeling.
The scene in poem A is set in a graveyard - Flanders Fields, while that of poem B is set when a soldier is fighting in a war. The mood of poem A is more calm and peaceful compared to that of poem B. Poem B describes the war scene in vivid detail, portraying a more realistic picture.
Poem A opens with a description of the graveyard where the dead soldiers lie. The mood here is quiet and serene. "and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below." This phrase suggests that the souls of the dead are like the larks, looking down at the war still going on from above. The dead are portrayed as brave, courageous souls who have lost their lives for an honourable cause.
Readers are able to feel a sense of poignancy in stanza 2. "Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields." In this phrase, the dead express their sadness as their lives came to an abrupt end. However, although they are dead, their souls linger and live on because of unfinished business. "To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high." Here the "failing hands" refer to the dead soldiers. The throwing of the torch symbolizes the dead soldiers handing over their duty to the living who are still fighting in the war. Because they did not live to see the battle won, they hope that the living will be able to lead the battle to ultimate victory.
Poem B has a rather different point of view concerning war and the dead. Soldiers seem to die with feelings of hatred and blame, instead of sadness and bravery. "one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture." The writer believes that the soldiers die blaming God for war and death. "this was no time to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives." We sense no poignancy in this sentence, even at the time of death. Rather, the soldier regards his life as "silly" and "outraged" and deserves no pity. "Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull." The last sentence symbolizes that the soul dies along with the human body, which differs greatly from the idea presented in poem A.
Poem A is set in the Flanders Field, which is rather peaceful, while passage B 's setting is a battlefield full of horrible scenes of death and destruction of war.
Poem A 's beginning has a calmer and more serene atmosphere. In the field poppies blow, larks, still bravely singing but the last line of the stanza Scarce heard the amid guns below suggests the theme of war. Still it is not so terrible.However, passage B already starts with violent and disturbing scenes of a war. The trench, which was supposed to be strong , was wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption, pitted with huge shell-holes. wherever we looked the mangled effigies of the dead were momento mori. gives readers a sense of horror.
The personae of Poem A and the narrator of Passage B hold a completely different attitude towards war. The personae in Poem A, who are dead soldiers have a more positive attitude. It seems they will never give up fighting their enemies and their morale will always remain high as the lines Take up our quarrel with the foe and If ye break with us who die/We shall not sleep demonstrate. They might even feel gratified for their death for the war as they are Loved and were loved. But the narrator in passage B , who is an officer in war, has a negative attitude. He can sense the protest of those fingers became more expressive of an appeal to god in defiance of those who made the war. which probably shows that he opposes to the war. And he is possibly very desperate and sad about fighting in a war since he laughed hysterically about the idea Who made the war?
Poem A only shows the idealistic side of war, with images of dawn and sunset, only guns suggest there is violence. Passage B describes war in horrifying details. the Germans maintained the violent attitudes in which they had died. The British had mostly been killed by bullets and bombs, so they looked more resigned proves dying for a war is not gratifying.The appalling Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull arouses feelings of fear of war among the readers.
The poem and the passage are probably aimed at spreading messages of war in different views. The poem, with the gratified feelings of the dead soldiers and their determination to drive away foes, possibly encourages readers to join the war to serve their country since they can beLoved and were loved.The passage, with the detailed terrifying scenario of war, like horrible deaths of soldiers, destruction of land, the officer's desperate feelings of war,promotes the message of peace and opposition to war through deriving the sense of fear from readers by the horrible imageries of the reality of war.