Wilfred Owen is well known for his portrayed war poetry on the trench and gas warfare. Owen wrote many poems during his lifetime and one of them is called ‘The Last Laugh’. ‘The Last Laugh’ is very short but incredibly effective because it’s from the weapon’s perspective and from his first hand experiences of war. The main idea Wilfred Owen wanted to convey was that it’s not the soldier’s who get the last laugh since many people died and many soldiers would not laugh about it. He shows that the machinery of the war is the master of the soldiers and that the weapons had the last laugh.
In this essay I will talk about how Wilfred Owen conveys his feelings on war by his use of imagery, his choice of language, the structure of the poem and the voice and tone of the poem. First of all, Owen creates images that really convey his experiences of WW1. The poem starts off with a solider that shouts “Oh! Jesus Christ! I’m hit. ” This solider is either just swearing because he was hit or he could have actually been crying out to God because he is religious. In the last stanza Owen shows an image of a solider who “slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.
Wilfred Owen Last Laugh
You can really picture an image of a solider that just got shot and is about to die and the last thing he thinks of is his loved one. You can imagine him closing his eyes and thinking of her and just imagining that he is with her and kisses her, when he is actually kissing the mud. The soldier is not described at all only his actions are described. The lack of details of the soldier shows that he doesn’t need any details because the reader already knows how the soldier is, a young man who just wants the war to end.
Owen also uses personification to describe the weapons and make them look like they are alive by giving each weapon a capital letter just like they have names like humans. The weapons are also given physical features that a human would usually have. For example, the Bayonets have “teeth. ” The bayonet has a human feature, which is teeth but not just normal teeth, “long teeth,” which makes the bayonets look like beasts. The weapons are very descriptive with detail and the soldiers are lacked in description and this shows how the weapons are dominant and that there were so many soldiers that died that there is no need for them to be described.
Not only are the weapons personified like humans but also the bullets are personified. Owen used personification by giving the bullets voices. “The Bullets chirped,” This shows that the weapons have taken over of the war. Owen uses a metaphor when he compares the shrapnel from an exploding bomb to a cloud. This metaphor helps the reader use his or her imagination. In the poem ‘The Last Laugh, imagery was used to really convey Owens thoughts on WW1. Secondly, Owen’s choice of language conveys his experiences of WW1.
Owen uses an interesting word to describe the bullets in the first stanza; he uses the word “chirped. ” This makes it seem like the bullets are like flying birds, because it is the noise that birds make. Also you can imagine the bullets like birds flying freely through the air. On the other hand, the men have no freedom whereas the weapons do. Owen repeats the word “vain,” and this emphasizes that whatever the soldiers try to do and defend themselves, no matter what they try it won’t work. Another word that Owen repeats is the onomatopoeic “tut-tut. This makes it sound like the machine guns are telling off the soldiers, like a parent would to their son when they do something wrong. The weapons are telling off the soldiers for them trying to stay alive in front of them and they have no match for the weapons.
The weapons are mocking the soldiers throughout the poem. In the line “The Big Gun guffawed,” the word “guffawed,” shows that the gun is mocking the soldiers and cannot stop laughing. As well, it is very weird to smile just before you die. However in the second stanza, the soldier “smiled. The soldier was probably described as smiling because maybe he was happy that he was dying due to the fact he was fed up with the war. This description of a dying soldier smiling before he dies confuses the reader and makes the reader think why is the soldier smiling. There were many young soldiers fighting for their country and Owen tells us by using the word “childlike. ” Also, the soldier in the second stanza was crying out for his mother and father, tells us the soldier is young and all he wants his mother and father like a normal young kid would want and have when young.
In most of his poems, he always refers to how young some of the soldiers were because he probably thought it was crazy how young the some of the soldiers were. The young soldiers didn’t have a normal childhood like kids do today. A word that makes it look like the Shrapnel-cloud is a human is the description that it “leisurely gestured. ” It suggests that the Shrapnel-cloud has arms because he is gesturing in a very relaxed way, just like a human would. The word “leisurely’ stands out because you think why would a cloud gesture something in an unhurried manor.
The weapons were not only personified as humans but also as animals; we see this in the last sentence of the last stanza with “The Gas hissed,” where the onomatopoeic ‘hissed’, makes the gas sound like a snake. Gas makes a hissing sound and snakes hiss makes the gas sound like an evil weapon. Owens choice of language shows his attitude to WW1 and shows what he thinks about it. Thirdly, Owen’s choice of structure in the poem is very unique and conveys his experiences of WW1. Each stanza is five lines long and the first two lines of each stanza are about humans and the last three are the weapons response to the humans.
The weapons have more to say then the humans and it makes it look like the weapons are the masters of the soldiers and are superior. Owen doesn’t give an identity to the humans but he gives an identity to each weapon by giving it a capital. For the humans, Owen uses pronouns. There is also a very abrupt death to each soldier. “I’m hit, he said: and died. ” It doesn’t describe how he died; he just died like many other soldiers did. Also Owen makes it look like the deaths of the soldiers don’t really matter. “Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed. It doesn’t matter if he cursed or if he was praying, he still died.
Owen also makes the three soldiers described in the poem are just fed up with the war, by using words like “said,” “sighed,” and “moaned. ” These words described how the soldiers are speaking and they all sound like they are happy that they are dying because they are fed up with the war. The first soldier is crying out to God or cursing. The second soldier is crying out for his mother and father and the last one is thinking of his loved one. After each soldier speaks, there are weapons mocking the soldier that just died.
The shortest line of the poem is the very last line, “and the Gas hissed. ” World War 1 was when gas warfare was first used on a large scale. The gas is the thing that haunts Owen most and it is the last weapon he describes since it’s the weapon that he will remember for the rest of his life. Owen conveys his experiences of WW1 by choosing a certain structure of the poem. Fourthly, Owen conveys his experiences of WW1 by the voice and tone used in the poem. The last laugh sort of has a fun tone of voice to it. It is consistent throughout most of the poem until the last line, where it had more of a serious tone.
I think this was done because gas was a very serious topic for Owen and he doesn’t want to make it sound like it wasn’t serious. There are different tones of voices for each weapon that speaks. For example, the Shrapnel-cloud has a very deep voice since it’s a massive big cloud so you can just imagine a deep tone of voice linked to the cloud. The language is more colloquial to formal because the poem has a fun tone of voice to it. Owen uses irony in the poem because the title “The last laugh” can be thought of as the last ones alive.
The weapons were all in one piece and were unharmed, whereas the soldiers died. It’s also ironic because he says that the weapons had the last laugh however the weapons can’t even laugh. Owen expresses his feelings of WW1 by the tone and voice used in the poem. In conclusion, I think that Owens poem ‘The Last Laugh’ is a great poem and he was very successful at expressing how he feels about World War 1. The poem was effective in conveying Owens feelings because of all the techniques used in the poem. I would never think about the weapons having the last laugh, it would be the last thing I would think of.
It was a very smart poem, how he personified the weapons to make them like humans. Every single thing was well thought of and I love how the humans have two lines and the weapons have three lines and how they respond to the humans. The last line also made me really think of gas and how it caused many harsh and painful deaths that I cannot even imagine. Overall, the poem was a great poem because it really conveyed Wilfred Owens experiences of WW1 by his use of imagery, choice of language, the structure of the poem and the voice and tone of the poem.