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Mental Cases Analysis



Author: Poetry of Wilfred Owen Type: Poetry Views: 1701





Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?

Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,

Drooping tongues from jays that slob their relish,

Baring teeth that leer like skulls' teeth wicked?

Stroke on stroke of pain,- but what slow panic,

Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?

Ever from their hair and through their hands' palms

Misery swelters. Surely we have perished

Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?



-These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.

Memory fingers in their hair of murders,

Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.

Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,

Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.

Always they must see these things and hear them,

Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,

Carnage incomparable, and human squander

Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.



Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented

Back into their brains, because on their sense

Sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black;

Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh.

-Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,

Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.

-Thus their hands are plucking at each other;

Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;

Snatching after us who smote them, brother,

Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

The title of the poem is clearly shown by Owen in order to show the bitterness that he feels towards those who simply label the men who had these experiences as "Mental Cases". In society, "Mental Cases" is a term used in order to simply label people, but what people don't realise is that they don't see much beneath the label. "Mental Cases" is also implying that, given enough study, the men can be understood and they can, eventually be cured. However, upon reading the "Mental Cases" it is clear that they can never be cured.

| Posted on 2014-05-08 | by a guest


.: :.

In \'Mental cases\', the poet Wilfred Owen describes the physical and mental effects of war over the soldiers\' minds: the « shell shock » that they felt after the fightings. They suffered from a terrible traumatism after being at the front and living such a ghastly thing which was WWI. The title is a pejorative and even nasty way to describe someone having a mental illness. Indeed, the soldiers would look disconcerted, their gaze would be unfocused and lost; every symptoms would show the effect that war had had over their minds. By reducing the soldiers to \'mental cases\', Owen presents his critical view on this war which turned them into what they are. His message is clear; he feels a great aversion and resentment against that war which reduced the soldiers to \'mental cases\' and the mood of the whole poem reflects that. Indeed, Owen has a clear vision of what he calls the \'mental cases\' as he witnessed their mental conditions when he was at the military hospital and this poem is the image of the atmosphere and the mood of the soldiers\' minds. \'Mental Cases\' is a powerful poem which denies the heroic image of the soldiers fighting for their countries, instead, it shows the harsh reality of the after war (it was written in 1918) and Owen aims to persuade people that there was no glory at all becoming a \'mental case\'.

| Posted on 2012-11-28 | by a guest


.: :.

In \'Mental cases\', the poet Wilfred Owen describes the physical and mental effects of war over the soldiers\' minds: the « shell shock » that they felt after the fightings. They suffered from a terrible traumatism after being at the front and living such a ghastly thing which was WWI. The title is a pejorative and even nasty way to describe someone having a mental illness. Indeed, the soldiers would look disconcerted, their gaze would be unfocused and lost; every symptoms would show the effect that war had had over their minds. By reducing the soldiers to \'mental cases\', Owen presents his critical view on this war which turned them into what they are. His message is clear; he feels a great aversion and resentment against that war which reduced the soldiers to \'mental cases\' and the mood of the whole poem reflects that. Indeed, Owen has a clear vision of what he calls the \'mental cases\' as he witnessed their mental conditions when he was at the military hospital and this poem is the image of the atmosphere and the mood of the soldiers\' minds. \'Mental Cases\' is a powerful poem which denies the heroic image of the soldiers fighting for their countries, instead, it shows the harsh reality of the after war (it was written in 1918) and Owen aims to persuade people that there was no glory at all becoming a \'mental case\'.

| Posted on 2012-11-28 | by a guest


.: :.

tis great, tis great, i admire his use of language. the war was a great fart.

| Posted on 2012-09-21 | by a guest


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in the first stanza of the poem the persona has apparently walked into a casuality station or military hospital ward housing shell-schock victims. the second and third stanza provide the response of the man\'s companion, or guide. the final lines of the poem present a frightening vision of the madmen moving towardsthe man and his guide reaching out their hands, touching, as if they were trying to drag the two sane men down into the hellish misery with them.

| Posted on 2012-05-31 | by a guest


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Your guests commenting on your website, has helped me more than your actual website?! What does that tell you!!!

| Posted on 2012-05-27 | by a guest


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the poem focusess on the effects (physical and mental) on returning soldiers from ww1. owen develops anamalistic characteristics and imagery of these men suffering shell-shock, or as we know it, post traumatic stress.he describes how the men are continously haunted by their horrific experiences, and by the memories of their friends and fellow soldiers who where not as fortunate to survive; which is ironic, as the men are seemingly or (wished they where) already dead.I love wilfred owen\'s willingness to speak out about the truth and reality of war, in a time where war was romantacised and soldiers where seen as ultimate heros, to uncover the brutal and inhumane massacre that it really was.

| Posted on 2011-12-07 | by a guest


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In The first Stanza, Owen desrcibes the damaged soldiers as \"Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,\" Obviously symbolising them as suffering not only mental instability, but fighting an internal war of their own. Also in the first Stanza, Owen asks many questions towards the reader, the questions are rhetorical, but, was owen - as the reader - asking the questions, or perhaps trying to mimick the post traumatic stress disorder, or as it was known then - shellshock which was easily confused as cowardism, to sound like the reader was suffering irritability which was a symptom of shellshock?

| Posted on 2011-06-04 | by a guest


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“Mental cases” like other Owen poems are classified to the subject of ‘War’ and ‘Grief’. It emphasizes the aftermath of war, the underlaying means of going mental. The first stanza of the poem creates many visual images to the audience enforcing emotional and strong elements of war. It is through this explicit visual detail that we are able to envisage their dehumanised appearance caused by “Drooping tongues” and slavering jaws. The use of a simile in “teeth that leer like skull’s teeth wicked?” links the living with the dead, emphasising their separation from normalcy as well as supporting how war has turned them ‘wicked’. This also stresses the menacing and disorienting impact of their leering expression; while strengthening the pity of war.

| Posted on 2011-06-01 | by a guest


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The title, Mental Cases, is a blunt, often derogatory expression to describe someone with a mental illness. However, this is apt as Owen expresses an element of repulsion at what war has reduced these men to, thus making his message more poignant.

| Posted on 2011-05-20 | by a guest


.: :.

Mental Cases’ by Wilfred Owen very plainly examines the physical and mental consequences of war in a very personal and direct way. The narrator observes these particular soldiers in a mental hospital who have suffered from shell shock or post traumatic stress disorder. The poem is comprised with three stanzas that each explores different aspects of the men’s conditions. From the very beginning, the reader is engaged through the imagery and language techniques used to express the physical and psychological state of the soldiers for example, by asking a series of rhetorical questions such as ‘Who are these?’. The question does not give an identity to the subject or anything of that matter, relating to the infinite soldiers fighting with no identity, they are merely a number. Owen presents these ‘cases’ in a dehumanizing way, specifying them as ‘they’ and ‘these’. Owen continues questioning, using enjambment, asking why they appear the way they do, while at the same time describing the way they look ‘Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows//Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish//Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ teeth wicked?’. “Purgatorial shadows” gives the readers an image of the men sitting in the darkness suffering due to their sins, fighting an internal war.

| Posted on 2011-02-06 | by a guest


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Owen writes strongly through his use of themes and word choice. Right from the start the reader is engaged through the rhetorical questions. \"Who are these?\" This question does not give an identity to the subject and a comparison can be made back to the war when all men were just one, fighting for a cause and it didn\'t matter who you killed as long as you won. In the second stanza we start to learn of the identity of the subject and it becomes gruesome, but the truth behind it is engaging and makes the poem more effecitive because of its reality and horror.

| Posted on 2011-01-08 | by a guest


.: :.

Wilfred Owens poem “Mental Cases” examines the physical and mental consequences of war in a very personal and direct way. Owen describes men who have returned home from war with post traumatic stress disorder also know as shell shock. They are in able to fight, have slow reaction times and have an inability to connect with their own surroundings.
The poem is comprised of three stanzas that each explores different aspects of the men’s conditions.
The first stanza describes the physical appearance of the men and prompts the readers to consider what made the men turn into these hellish creatures.
The second stanza describes what the men have seen and experienced and helps the readers to understand why the men appear as they do.
In the final stanza, Owen brings the first two stanzas together and continues to describe their physical appearances and also how the men now see life.
Through out the poem, Owen uses imagery and language techniques to express the horrific conditions of war and the terrible physical and mental state of the returned soldiers.
The first line in the poem asks “ Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?”
The questions immediately grab the reader\'s attention, with the word \'twilight\' setting the tone for the stanza and the poem as a whole. Owen continues questioning, using enjambment, asking why they appear the way they do, while at the same time describing the way they look.
“Purgatorial shadows” gives the readers an image of the men sitting in the darkness suffering due to their sins, fighting an internal war.

| Posted on 2010-12-08 | by a guest


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mental cases show the effects of shell shock. in the first stanza the \'visitor\' dehumanises the patients by using animalistic language such as \'drooping tongues\'and baring teeth\' and the second stanza is the doctor (who appears a bit annoyed by stanza 1 man\'s attitude) telling him/her that they are MEN and explains the horrific experiences that have made them how they are now. the end of the last stanza blames the government at the time of WW1, and the pro-war public. \'pawing us who dealt them war and madness\'. this poem was written at Craiglockhart military hospital in Oct 1917 while Owen was there convalescing.

| Posted on 2010-10-29 | by a guest


.: :.

mental cases show the effects of shell shock. in the first stanza the \'visitor\' dehumanises the patients by using animalistic language such as \'drooping tongues\'and baring teeth\' and the second stanza is the doctor (who appears a bit annoyed by stanza 1 man\'s attitude) telling him/her that they are MEN and explains the horrific experiences that have made them how they are now. the end of the last stanza blames the government at the time of WW1, and the pro-war public. \'pawing us who dealt them war and madness\'. this poem was written at Craiglockhart military hospital in Oct 1917 while Owen was there convalescing.

| Posted on 2010-10-29 | by a guest


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Mental cases is about how war has turned the men to wild beasts who can only feel misery death and pain.

| Posted on 2010-10-20 | by a guest


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This poem conveys the psychic damage done to human beings through exposure to the insensate physical violence of modern warfare. In World War I they called it \"shell shock,\" now we call it \"delayed stress syndrom\"; but it is really all the same thing, a universal horror passed down through the ages and magnified by the weapons of modern times. On his first visit to the Vietnam Memorial Wall a friend of mine, a combat veteran of that war, got within 100 feet of the wall, collapsed onto his knees and began rocking back and forth, sobbing uncontrollably. This was 25 years after he\'d been there and one can only imagine what memories he\'d had to of the war to cause such a powerful emotional response. By all accounts the trench warfare of World War I was the penultimate horror in the history of warfare, with its massive use of poison gas, relentless artillery shelling day and night, and the first use of the machine gun. More than a million men died at the First Battle of the Somme in just four and a half months. Thousands of bodies literally disappeared into the muddy crater chasms of artillery shells. Wilfred Owen most surely had witnessed such horrors also. And let us not forget that Owen himself was killed in the final days of the war at the age of twenty-five.

| Posted on 2010-08-13 | by a guest


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The opening lines draw ironic parrells to the lines in the Revelation portion in the bible: 'what are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence did they come.' The irony is that the passage states 'God shall wipe away all their tears, and in contrast, Owen states 'Always must they see these things and see them'. He portrays men in hell or purgatorial settings with all the death imagry 'These are the men who's minds dead had ravished.' and describes how everything is tainted by war so that 'on thier senses sunlight seems a blood smear;night comes blood black;Dawn breaks open like a wound bleeding a fresh.'
The men have done little to deserve this; rather than murders they are descibed as witnesses who have been 'smote' and 'dealt... war and madness'. As others previously stated a lot of the powerful imagery is from what Owen actually saw at Craigelockhart. Other influences include the paintings of Heironymous Bosche who painted vivid scenes of hell. Mirroring and bringing together the physical, tortured imagry, Owen represents the huge, devestating mental anguish in a physically violent and gripping way.

| Posted on 2010-06-07 | by a guest


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This is a shocking recount detailing the effects of war. Previously called 'The Deranged' this has vivid imagery of the highest order - encouraging empathy from the reader. Written in Craiglockhart this seems to be about the horrors that he saw there portraying the negative impact and mental derailment that the war caused. He shows the victims to be disconnected from society as thier words have become distorted. The use of 'twilight' shows the time of dreams and nightmares that Owen often portrays in his poetry. The break between day and night is reminiscent of purgatory, the communication between life and death. It also provides the cover of darkness for these people physically and mentally deranged.

| Posted on 2010-04-25 | by a guest


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Looking at the first stanza and the beggining of the second
‘Mental cases’ is a shocking poem describing Owens experience in the Craig Lockheart Hospital and the shell shock victims he saw there. Owen describes their physical state but focuses mainly on the mental effects of war and of the haunting things these men have experienced.
Owen begins the poem addressing the reader with rhetorical questions; “Who are these? Why sit they here in the moonlight?”. These questions are an effective beginning to the poem because they capture the reader’s attention encouraging them to engage with the poem and learn more. The questions are later followed by “Ever from their hair and through their hand palms misery swelters”. This metaphor stands out for me because it shows the strong sense of despair, that these men are sweating misery. Again this verse is ended with rhetorical questions “but who these hellish” and “surely we have perished”. This death imagery is really powerful because it backs up Owens opinions on the effects of war that they are in so much pain that surely they must be dead. I think this first verse is very effective at setting the mood to the poem and capturing the reader’s attention, encouraging them to emphasise with these people.
The second verse comes as a answr to the rhetorical questions in the first verse starting with “These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished” This line really show the mental effects of war that these mens minds have been ‘ravished’ by what they have seen.

| Posted on 2010-04-20 | by a guest


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It is about war and the illness shell shock it uses lots of different techniques such as alitterarion to build supsence and make the reader feel pain and misery for the soldiers

| Posted on 2010-03-29 | by a guest


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This Poem reflects war the way no other does, it is so truthful the way it goes on to explain and detail the agonising moments in which these soilders suffer. It is almost as if the socitey has lured the men to fight in this war due to the fact that they have mad it out to be glorious and brve when really it is all pain, misery and regret and i can only hope that one day there will be no more war, suffering, misery and most of all pain for both soilders and familys cause , war, well it effects more than the physical being being sent to walk to the plank.... i leave you with this in th hope it wil help! xx

| Posted on 2009-10-19 | by a guest


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This poem tends to tackle issue of the post-war situation.

| Posted on 2009-09-09 | by a guest


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clearly the poem speaks of these men as having post-traumatic stress beause of the aftermath of ww1

| Posted on 2009-09-08 | by a guest


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the poem clearly states that in 100 years people will have the same thoughts a s now and he [poem ca be so yes and why are you is the for me . to conclude the poem is so shart. and i am a dumbshit that thinks english speeches on monday are c.r.a.p. and i mean it therefore i will departure and leave you confused and reterted as the name of this poem is called mental cases... ah ahha hah

| Posted on 2009-05-17 | by a guest


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Head wounds and brain injury following exposure to exploding ordnance were recognized as a significant cause of invalidity in the opening phase of World War I. These casualties offered Gordon Holmes, consultant neurologist to the British Expeditionary Force, an unprecedented opportunity to test the localization of brain function. Cerebral trauma found itself at the cutting edge of military medicine. But what appeared to be a straightforward association between cause (shell explosion) and effect (head wound) soon became clouded and a cause of controversy.

| Posted on 2009-05-13 | by a guest


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The poets use of rhetoric in the opening stanza also hints at the state that these men are after their time in the trenches. The rhetorical question shows how, to even Owen, that these men are somewhat unrecognisable because of what they have been living like in the trenches.

| Posted on 2009-05-13 | by a guest


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This poem directly addresses the reader, in the first stanza through the form of questions ('Who are these?') and in the final stanza through the suggestion that the reader, assumed to be a contemporary of Owen but back at home, is complicit in the suffering of these men through supporting the war - 'Snatching after us who smote them, brother'. This gives the poem a more personal slant, and also creates a slight feeling of discomfort; even now, ninety years after the first world war, it is impossible not to feel a shiver down your spine when Owen speaks straight to you, suggesting you have contributed to the suffering.

| Posted on 2009-02-24 | by a guest


.: Directly addressing the r :.

This poem directly addresses the reader, in the first stanza through the form of questions ('Who are these?') and in the final stanza through the suggestion that the reader, assumed to be a contemporary of Owen but back at home, is complicit in the suffering of these men through supporting the war - 'Snatching after us who smote them, brother'. This gives the poem a more personal slant, and also creates a slight feeling of discomfort; even now, ninety years after the first world war, it is impossible not to feel a shiver down your spine when Owen speaks straight to you, suggesting you have contributed to the suffering.

| Posted on 2006-06-11 | by Approved Guest




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