How does Owen use the sonnet form to effectively reflect on the losses of WW1?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wilfred Owen uses the Italian sonnet form to reflect the losses of World War I by employing the first eight lines (or octave) to address the terrible cost of the loss of young men's lives in war and the last eight lines (or sestet) to address the effects of those losses on the men's homes and loved ones. Typically, with this form, the first eight lines introduce a problem or even a difficult question; then the last six lines resolve the problem or answer the question. One way in which Owen effectively uses this form to demonstrate the awful cost of war, especially this war in comparison with wars that came before, is that, while he introduces a problem in the octave, he does not solve the problem with the sestet. He cannot "solve" the problem of war because there is no solution. One of the messages of the poem, then, is that the loss of life in war can never be solved, can never be fixed. Once people have lost their lives, there is simply no way to redeem or mitigate that loss. Instead of attempting to solve the problem of war, the sestet only presents more problems and losses, compounding those presented by the octave.

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