The Student Room Group

My English Essay- Remains vs Exposure

Would anyone mind reading through my essay so far and telling me what they think about it? I still need to write a paragraph on structure but not sure what to write. Not sure what grade it would be either.

In the poems Remains and Exposure by Simon Armitage and Wilfred Owen the reality of war is explored both physically and mentally. Both poems show that war is not the nonstop fighting and excitement that it is portrayed as in propaganda and is instead a dehumanizing and never-ending experience.

In “exposure” the narrator is irritated at the dullness of having to wait in the trenches of WW1 instead of the promised non-stop fighting. This is shown by the repeated phrase “but nothing happens” that is at the end of multiple stanzas. This supports Owen’s beliefs that the war is not worth fighting and that the soldiers are giving away their lives for something of little importance. This phrase is also ironic as he is saying that nothing happens even though they are slowly dying. The phrase also contrasts some of the quite complex imagery throughout the poem with a simple and unimaginative phrase. The author of the poem may have done this to show the bleakness of war.

In comparison, “Remains” starts in media res and similar to “Exposure” contains a lot of vivid imagery. However, the language used in remains is a lot more informal compared to exposure. This could suggest that the two poets had very different backgrounds. For example, Armitage says, “and tosses his guts back into his body” This seems like a very casual -almost cold-hearted- thing to do to for the soldier and potentially may reflect how human life is wasted and soldiers' lives become disposable in war. This could relate to the beliefs of Wilfred Owen that war is unimportant and is the cause of unneeded deaths. The word “guts” is also very visceral and is used to show that the soldiers are desensitized to the horror and reality of war. This would make the reader think that the reality of war is gory and incredibly sad.

The themes of suffering and the reality of war is also explored in “Exposure” when Owen writes “Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...” The collective pronoun “our” shows that this is a shared experience for soldiers and its repeated use can also be seen in “Remains”. The emotional and physical pain of the men is only shown by the personified wind which appears to be persistently attacking them. The power of nature is shown in this quote along with the sibilant sounds further reinforcing their exhaustion and fatigue. This shows the reality of war to be deep and unyielding.

The long-term effects of war are also shown in “Remains” as the memory of a “probably armed, possibly not” looter that stays on the mind of the narrator the whole of the poem. He describes this situation as “dug in behind enemy lines” suggesting the potential PTSD problems a soldier has. The looters death is stuck inside his head. This may cause a reader to question as to why soldiers are sent into a warzone. It is very likely it was the writer's intention to do this as Wilfred Owen believed that soldiers should not be sent into war in the first place.

The structure in “Exposure” especially shows the reality of war with the anti-climactic ending of each stanza. This shows the boring reality of war by contrasting the powerful and highly emotive sentences in the lines beforehand. It builds up to nothing happening. The repetitive rhyme scheme of ABBAC also shows the boring repetitiveness of war. Owen would have done this because he wanted his reader to empathize with how the soldiers felt with the anticlimactic nature of the war. Instead they are slowly being killed by the weather.

On the other hand, in “Remains”, the structure shows how the reality of war has affected the soldier Armitage is narrating. This is shown by the repetition of the phrases “somebody else” and “my”. The phrase "somebody else” is used in the first few stanzas when the soldier is still at war. This shows that he is minimizing his own role in the killing of the looter and instead blaming someone else. Later on in the poem, when he is alone at home, he does not blame anyone but himself. In the poem the impact of the war is personal to the soldier. This shows that in the reality of war is that it can put a huge burden on soldiers, and it means they must live with everything they did in the war.

[Edit] Added 2 paragraphs on structure
(edited 4 years ago)
Reply 1
it isn't enough to get you into the top band - i would give this a level 4/5.

the analysis is not in depth - you are not using a wide variety of punctuation, and you often miss commas! many sentences are grammatically incorrect and the points and arguments are not in relation to the question.
the structure of this essay is very awkward - most students will have 3-5 paragraphs TOPS (introduction to theme and poems, literary techniques, structure, themes ideas and attitudes, conclusion).

- please EMBED your quotations: they should make your points flow from one idea to the next instead of having 7 paragraphs!!
- check your capitalisation and grammatical mistakes, as well as punctuation.
- add CONTEXT as this is assessed in AO4.
- you need a conclusion
- at the end of each paragraph, link your points back to the topic question
- not a very detailed analysis - when writing essays on poem comparisons, always take judicious quotes that you can analyse and probe in depth, rather than making shallow evaluations of unrelated quotations.

message me if you want more tips on writing a level 9 essay.
I would agree with much of what @libero has already said, so I may repeat a few things:

Essay structure. You've got some good ideas down, but they're displayed awkwardly; the points don't flow into each other very well (e.g. "similarly"), and the essay sometimes jumps from one point to the next. It seems to me that you haven't planned your answer; you won't get any marks for a plan but top band/Level 6 answers are "critical, exploratory and well-structured". Planning out your points and the way in which you're going to structure them will help you achieve this

Analysis, particularly of language. In some places - for example, the last paragraph - I feel that you're explaining the poem, rather than analysing the language used. You've made a whole-text link to your main point ("Later on in the poem"), which is excellent, but you go on to explain what happens, rather than using a quote and zooming in on words or phrases to back up your point. Explaining the poem in this sense would likely only get you into Level 3, tops. You need to focus on specific parts of a quote, using word-level analysis, then going on to communicate the effect of these words/phrases on the reader. This is crucial for getting those higher marks.

Contextual links (A03). You've made some attempts at highlighting context e.g. Wilfred Owen's beliefs, so I think you understand it, but it's important to weave in some context for every point you're making. This might actually help you with structuring your points and choosing a select few that will back up your overall argument - context can't be found in every point you want to make, so you need to select ones that have some kind of AO3 link, whether that's through the author/time it was written/etc.

General SPaG. Mostly punctuation issues, which do hinder your clarity and the overall sophistication of your essay. AO4 is ultimately only 4 marks, but this can be the difference between your grade boundary and the next, so it's worth spending some time trying to nail this.

In terms of a conclusion, I would have to disagree with above poster - you don't need a conclusion per se, but you do need a sentence or two just to sum up everything you've mentioned and tie it all together. You don't need an entire paragraph, but a sentence or so on the points you've made and their overall effect could certainly help you write a "critical" response.

Another couple of points I'd make for a grade 9 answer would be to make comparisons within paragraphs i.e. under the same point. You can't do this in every paragraph (e.g. "Armitage and Owen both indicate that war is largely a waiting game" would be just plain wrong, since this only applies to Owen), but direct comparisons (e.g. "Armitage and Owen both suggest that war has far-reaching consequences for individuals") really showcases your ability to make comparisons between the poems, and that you can identify overall similarities in both poems.

Another thing that is vital for a grade 9 response is to make perceptive inferences. This generally involves taking a quote with multiple meanings and exploring each of them, analysing these meanings and examining their effects. For example, in Remains, where the soldier "tosses his guts back into his body", you've suggested that this might be a reflection of the cold-hearted nature of the soldier, but could this phrase also be his way of coping with the horrors of war? Does the verb "tosses" indicate that the soldier may be so traumatised by seeing the looter's innards, his only way of processing it is by trivialising it by using colloquialisms (i.e. "tosses")? Just an example, but if you can show an understanding that a quote can have multiple meanings, this will really push your grade up - it's highly critical and exploratory.

Overall, I don't think your essay is bad by any means - you've made some excellent points and I think you have a good understanding of the poems. You've also identified some great technical features. You just need to analyse the quotes that back up your points, keeping the effect on the reader in mind, and use some AO3 links to show you understand contextual factors that might have influenced the author in using this language/structural feature.
(edited 4 years ago)

Quick Reply