Modernism In 'Gassed' And Does It Matter, By Siegfried Sassoon

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Essays on Modernity

Essay Question 2:

This fine arts analysis of the First World War and the ideology of “modernism” will be defined in “Gassed” by John Singer Sargent (1919) and “Does it Matter?” by Siegfried Sassoon (1917). The primary focus of Sargent 's painting defines the reality of “total war” and the meaninglessness of combat within the context of new war technologies that eliminated hand-to-hand combat and the “honor” of war in the old world 19th century context. In this manner, “modern” warfare of the 1910s made the premise of combat meaningless if soldiers could be killed by mustard gas, automatic machine guns, and artillery. The soldier standing in the Sargent 's painting reflects the mass causalities and destruction caused
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The development of industrial warfare made it possible to kill thousands of soldiers without the necessity of hand-to-hand combat, which had dominated warfare before the 20th century. Sargent displays the blinded soldiers that could never see their enemy or understand why they were dying en masse without actually fighting the enemy directly. Sassoon also displays this same aspect of meaninglessness, which displays the interior mindset of soldiers that may not understand their wounds, but they will enjoy good will and comfort by their peers as a form of ambiguous nationalist sentiment for fighting the war. These are the important reasons for understanding why World War I was a pivoting point in the industrialization of modern warfare, which had removed the honor or chivalry of hand-to-hand combat obsolete through gassing, machine gun technology, and artillery bombardments in these new combat environments. Surely, the old methods of 19th century combat had been lost in the way large-scale industrial methods of killing or maiming dominated the new paradigm of warfare in the early 20th

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