2.9 Reading Responses

Mental cases

People can be broken, in the case of war this breaking point is known as shellshock. Wilfred Owen the author of Mental cases has taken me on a graphic experience filled with the disturbing effects World War 1 had on men’s minds and how it damaged soldiers who served for their countries. It’s an emotional poem that lets me see through the eyes of Wilfred Owen and witness what soldiers felt, saw and suffered from during WW1. ‘Mental cases’ is a great piece of poetry, however this one created imagery in my head far more vivid than any of Wilfred Owen’s other poems, for example:“Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented back into their brains”. There are several points throughout this poem where the Author talks about men being deformed from the war; “Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander”. This sentence describes the men as helpless and at the end of the day they really were, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, just the war. I feel so miserable for the men who were lost and scared, there only choice was to face fear head on and that would of drived some men to their breaking point: “Wherefore rock they”. Some men were so broken that they ended up in a state of constant shock which resulted in them literally rocking back and forth to calm their themselves down. They were once ordinary men living their normal lives when all of a sudden the war called for them and deprived them of their humanity:”Rucked too thick for these men’s extrication”. This line shows how the men are trapped inside their own minds which are filled with the scars and  horrors of war and how the men are unable to escape their depressing thoughts. This is not what I call living, this is what I call suffering and its all because of the war. I find it uncomfortable to think of what these men went through but it is important to understand this all the same. Wilfred Owen is talking about events that took place in the past however these times are not over yet because war still rages on. War hasn’t changed and it never will, all it has done is evolve into the modern era. These days you can read articles online about the most recent terror attacks or bombings from around the world, this is something that would never of been possible during World War 1. Also the technology is constantly evolving in modern warfare, tanks can now speed up to 70 kms per hour and bombs have the capacity to destroy so much more than back in world war 1. A Lot of conflicts happening around the world these days are often driven by religious fears and we now have extremists like ISIS putting fear into the people and world. This poem not only shows us of what our world once was but of what it still is. It sparks an awareness in me that the world we stand on today has had a past filled with regrets, accomplishments, mistakes, sins, discoveries and so much more. We can learn from the past and understand that the world is a fragile place that still needs time to recover and the people must learn to respect one another as human beings, otherwise we may never be able to live in a world where hate does not exist. The thing about war is I can sit here and type what I think about it all day but I will never truly feel the pain those did between the dates of 28 Jul 1914 – 11 Nov 1918. I may indeed feel the excitement to explore the world but I may not feel the dread of leaving home to fight a war in which I may not return. I may have my share of days where I am feeling down but I may never lose my mind from a war of hatred and fear. One thing war is good at doing is turning people into monsters, destroying their once content souls and creating murdering beasts; “Tread blood from lungs that had loved laughter”. These men had loved to live and laugh just as myself but now they stand on top of their own lungs as if that once loving person is now gone. This is the kind of things war does, it never fixes problems it only ever creates more. “Mental cases” will challenge you as a reader due to  the literature and ideas presented in the poem. Some of the content in the poem is very explicit but don’t let that turn you off because the poem gives important insight into what the war was like, I highly recommend this to fellow readers who wants a deep and meaningful poem to unravel. Even in this day and age it’s a very eye opening poem that will leave you questioning how we as humans have let these crimes happen to our people and world.


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