Modernism In Sargent's Gassed And Does It Matter?

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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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This new chemical weapons technology made it possible to kill thousands of soldiers without directly seeing the enemy, which Sargent defines the mass causalities and walking wounded depicted in this painting. A liner of soldiers is shown being escorted by another soldier, since the gas has blinded many of them. This horrific aspect of modern warfare defines the effect of total war and new technology that changed the way soldiers viewed combat. Traditionally, men had used gun and sabers to fight wars in the 19th century, but the emergence of machine technology and industrialized chemical weapons made it possible to bomb, gas, and shoot down soldiers en masse during this war. Therefore, the lack of honor and meaningless of modern warfare no longer beheld the chivalrous codes of conduct that defined older methods of combat. Sargent’s painting defines hopelessness and meaningless of a technology war that defined the “modern age” of warfare as a pivotal moment in human history. More so, warfare had become “industrialized” and it reveals them massive impact of Mustard Gas and other methods of mass killing methods used by the European powers in World War …show more content…
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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