28th February 2018

Exposure- Wilfred Owen

Exposure is represented in the poem as the cold elements of weather the soldiers face in world war one. The weather is presented as an enemy to the soldiers because it makes it impeccably hard conditions for soldiers to adapt to and fight in. In the line “For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house is theirs”, it portrays how desperate the soldiers are for a warm haven out of the snowy weather, they long for this so bad they think of the smallest details being the mice.

Quotes in the poem that are weather focused:

“Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us . . .”

From this quote it tells us that the environment is very cold and windy. The weather is presented as an enemy because the wind is shown to be so strong that it hurts the soldiers. The reader can imagine soldiers being affected immensely by the power of the wind and the severity of the coldness, hitting their face creating “icy headaches” like the feeling you get when you eat an ice cream too fast.

“Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire”

This quote portrays the environment to be really windy and this is shown in the phrase “mad gusts”. The reader can imagine from this quote soldiers resting listening to the wire fences being pushed around by the powerful winds of the night.

“We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.”

From this quote the reader can understand the environment is dreadfully rainy and very overcast creating a negative feeling for the soldiers.

“Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,”

“We watch them wandering up and down the wind’s nonchalance”Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces— ”

“Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces— ”

“We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-dazed,”

“Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,”

“Tonight, this frost will fasten on this mud and us,”

“Shrivelling many hands, and puckering foreheads crisp.”

“Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,”


These references inform the reader of how dreadful the environment could be at times. Severe winds, torrential rain and plummeting temperatures are all factors the soldiers had to adapt to inorder to survive. The weather is presented as an enemy to the soldiers because these awful factors were impeccably uncomfortable for soldiers to live in and fight in. Because they had no real warm shelters and very minimum clothing to get warm after being saturated in rain or numb from the low temperatures made it especially hard for the soldiers to deal with. These conditions made the weather an enemy to the soldiers, they would have to fight it off by mental strength and management of warmth to remain healthy.

“What are we doing here?” Is it that we are dying?”

From this rhetorical question used in the text, the reader is questioned by Owen. It challenges the reader to take a moment and step into the shoes of Owen, to think of his situation. Although he questions the reader what he is doing here (at war), he is suggesting he is doing nothing, same with “is it that we are dying?”, he knows they are because people around him are dying and he is coming close to it. So although he is asking questions in the text, he is answering them at the same time.


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