Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front

950 Words 4 Pages
In the early 20th century, the First World War made a significant impact on numerous Europeans’ lives, especially the soldiers. The imperialism and expansionism that gained momentum in the mid-19th century, as well as the growing sense of nationalism among Europeans, fueled Europe’s first total war. However, the motive of fighting for one’s country soon diminished and left the soldiers with nothing more than a sense of hopelessness, thereby exhausting their mental well-being. In Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the trauma soldiers experienced were mainly due to the realization of the war’s lack of purpose, dread from anticipating life after war, and confusion in identity caused by the disconnection with family, friends, and interests.
One reason why soldiers experienced extreme emotional trauma is because the war itself contrasted greatly with their high expectations. Paul describes how at the beginning, he looked up to soldiers because they were “guides to the world of maturity, the world of work, of duty, of culture, of progress — to the future” (12).
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Paul expressed his loss of self when he claimed that he was “forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, [he is] crude and sorrowful and superficial – [he] believe[s] [he is] lost” (123). Although it is common for young adults to be confused about their identity, it negatively impacts soldiers’ mental well-being nonetheless. It contributes to the already existing stress of the war. The war made a lasting psychological impact on numerous soldiers when they lost hope in life, especially after understanding the emptiness of war. This in turn would spur the age of anxiety and reflects the shift in philosophical thought – that is, philosophers began emphasizing the loneliness and meaninglessness of life. These soldiers were appealed to those ideas, and this new outlook on life gained popularity in the decades after the

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