Depiction of Characters Dealing with Harsh Reality in Disabled and The Necklace
Between all the varieties of poems and stories which described situations of and sufferings, harshness and lost dreams I decided to focus on how an extract can create a situation of harsh reality for the characters. In many of the texts, I noticed how many of them depicted the harshness of some characters, for example, the poem “Out, Out -” by Robert Frost, I loved manifests how the life of a young man changed into few seconds, which lead to the characters death, demonstrating how anyone could find himself into a harsh reality, which made this a poem a very persuasive choice
Harsh reality is a situation where a person lives in unpleasant or difficult conditions, sometimes caused by mistakes or miscalcalcolated actions made in the past. In the poem “Disabled”, Wilfred Owen depicts the suffering of a person who was injured during the First World War, describing his emotional and physical state; in the short story, “The Necklace”, by Guy de Maupassant, a moral is taught to the reader by showing how unwise decisions or behaviour made by the protagonist lead them to live a harsh, lonely and cruel reality.
In “Disabled”, Wilfred Owen describes the main character throughout the poem to convey to the reader his cruel situation and conditions. Owen decided to never cite the main character’s name, He only uses the personal pronoun “He”, which implies that main character not only lost his limbs, but also his identity and personality. This encourages the reader to feel hopeless towards the poor man and convey his atrocious conditions. Another way this could be interpreted, is that the character doesn’t have a name because he represent all the soldiers in war who had suffered permanent injuries and remained physically or mentally impaired. This would explain why the title of the poem is “Disabled”, maybe Owen wanted not to write about the conditions of a specific person, but to talk about the topic of disability and war, which Wilfred Owen experienced, as he fought in the first World War, suffered a post traumatic stress disorder called shell shock, which lead him to Craiglockhart war hospital to recover, and unfortunately died in battle one week before the end of the war. To emphasise the harshness of the situation and to create a feeling of loneliness of the character, the writer chose to write the poem in third person, using a narrator to describe the settings and the main character feelings. If instead of a narrator there was another character who was describing the situation, he could have helped the main character, which is alone, feeling “cold” and he his forgotten by everyone, proved by the repetition of “why don’t they come” at the end of the last stanza of the poem. As it is a narrator who describes the situation, he is unable to help the main character. The narrator can’t interfere with the story, as he is not part of it. The fact that no one as the capacity to help the poor man who lost his limbs, not the narrator, this makes the reader feel commiseration toward him. Furthermore, Wilfred Owen uses strong adjectives as “ghastly” and “legless” to create a vivid image emphasising how the war damaged the main character in his such horrible way. The writer even uses the simile “like some queer disease” which proves that the injured man is not anymore accepted by the society due to his disability. This is very unexpected for the readers, has they would normally imagine that a soldier who got incapacitated during the war should be helped and treated as a national hero, the soldier themselves would expect to be treated in a grateful way, as during WW1 there were many patriotic propagandas about war which portrayed the soldiers as saviours. In this poem, the opposite is revealed. The noun “disease” implies that the other people have repulsive feelings and are scared when staying near him.
Similarly, at the start of “The Necklace”, Guy de Maupassant also uses a narrator to describe the situation of the main character, Madame Loisel, but, contrasting with “Disabled” where the description his focused with the character physical appearance, in this prose the writer chose to highlight the character’s possessions and her financial state to emphasise on the fact that she was never been able to fulfill her dream of being wealthy and being part of a high class society. The triplet “the peeling walls, the battered chairs, and the ugly curtains” is used to emphasise on Madame Loisel’s feelings towards her house. The list of adjective “peeling”, “battered” and “ugly” implies that her house is not as she wished and it strongly distress her, which is proved by the quote “(referring to the her house) was torture to her and made her very angry”. The noun “torture” is an hyperbole which cannotates how essential for her is to be wealthy and how much she now feels “unhappy” about it. Her feelings of boredom and sadness contrasts with the end of the story where Madame Loisel and her husband have to pay heavy debts and they become part of the lower social class. The quote “She became used to heavy domestic work and all kinds of ghastly kitchen chores.” And “her hair was untidy, her skirts were askew and her hands were red” Describe how the debts of Madame loisel and her husband changed drastically their lifestyle. The adjective “ghastly” has very strong consonants which help the reader to understand the amount of effort and work she had to put has consequence of her mistake of losing the necklace. Furthermore the noun phrase “heavy domestic work” Suggests to the reader that, compared to now, in the start of the prose Madame Loisel’s conditions were not part of a harsh reality, even if she was strongly unsatisfied because “She dressed simply” or “she had … no jewelry”. Now her condition became much worse and she learns how is to be in a really low economic status
Maupassant use this contrast to create a moral of the story, which is to no be always unsatisfied of what you own because life could change from one to another and you could find yourself into a totally different condition.In Wilfred Owen’s poem, the writer created a juxtaposition between the past and present, using a time distortions to explain the reader the mistake that lead him into his condition. The quote “In the old times, before he threw away his knees” is the start of an anecdote, describing the life of the protagonist before he went to war. The “old times”, is a typical English expression, which creates a contrast between the harshness of the current situation and the joy and happiness of the past. Owen successfully uses the metaphor “threw away his knees” to convey to the reader the idea that the protagonist is regretful about not having his legs anymore, which implies that if he hadn’t chosen to join the army, he could still be in an healthy condition and able to walk. In addition, the quote is phrased to place the noun “knees” before a full stop, to emphasise the key final word. In my opinion the poet wanted to express the preciousness of life and the terrible injuries which resulted from “modern” warfare such as that seen in the First World War. To describe the protagonist’s emotions, Owen cleverly chose to make the noun “knees” rhyme with the noun “disease” at the end of the second stanza to highlight the protagonist’s feelings of nostalgia towards his ephemeral youth and the fact that it was not his fault that he has returned looking like an abomination.
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