Importance Of Nationalism In Pre-1916 War Literature

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Register to read the introduction… In Kipling’s story, Dravot exclaims, “Next year, I shall be a Knight of the Queen!” Becoming a knight is obviously a strong motivation for embarking on this quest, indicating that Dravot has a very strong sense of nationalism. Rather than keeping their conquered lands to themselves, Dravot and Carnehan plan on claiming them in the name of England and handing them over to the Queen in exchange for knighthood. This patriotism and pride in one’s country plays a huge role in the pre-1916 reasoning of warfare. Similarly, Rupert Brooke harkens back to nationalism in his poem, The Soldier. In reference to dying in battle, he says, “there’s some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England.” Even when faced with the possibility of death, the soldier remains faithful to the country that sent him to war. Rather than his grave being simply his own corpse, he proclaims that it shall be English land, thereby giving not only his life, but also his death and dead body over in service to his …show more content…
Once they are reunited, Dravot tells Carnehan, “I’ve been marching and fighting for six weeks with the Army, and every footy little village for fifty miles has come in rejoiceful… and I’ve got a crown for you!” Even after they have fought bloody battles to conquer the indigenous peoples of Kafiristan, war is still depicted as a glorious thing, what with the “villages coming in rejoiceful” and Dravot bringing Carnehan a crown. This romanticism is a definite characteristic of pre-1916 war literature. John McCrae also heavily romanticizes war in his 1915 poem, In Flanders Fields. Rather than focusing his poem on the death and devastation that was occurring in the “no-man’s land” between the two armies, he highlights the beautiful poppies that grow in it, symbolizing the romantic hope that he still holds. Additionally, he says, “To you from flailing hands we throw/ The torch; be yours to hold it high.” McCrae explains that even if they should die and fail to uphold “torch,” it must be passed on to those who can. This notion is war is very romantic and exemplifies the hope that people still had before …show more content…
This disillusionment can be seen in almost any post-1916 WWI poem, but most clearly in Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting. When coming upon a soldier on the ground, the speaker says, “And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,/ By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.” This statement exemplifies the utter hopelessness that the soldiers felt, which is heightened by the high spirits that they had entered the war with. To say that they “stood is Hell,” is so say that there cannot possibly be a worse situation, and just as there is no hope for the souls in Hell, there must not be any hope for them. After starting off the war with such optimism and patriotism, but then coming to see the great carnage and violence, the soldiers come to realize the true nature of war. This disillusionment is a major theme in post-1916 war literature, and marks the change from romanticism of war in

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