Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Explanatory note on The Hero by Siegfried Sassoon

The Hero” is a bold attempt by Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous war poets, to tear off the mask from the face of war. The poem expresses the hypocrisy hidden behind the glory of war. War is a game of bloodshed. Many innocent lives are lost in the bloody game. There is nothing glorious about it. Many youths are forced to join the warfare and thus, they are driven to untimely death against their wish. The painful death of a soldier is glorified as the death of a martyr. The people sitting back at ease in their homes think and speak highly of soldiers and their death in the battlefield. 

The poem “The Hero” gives us the real picture of how some cold-footed soldiers die being blown into countless pieces. In the poem, Jack lacks the bravery of a true soldier. Afraid of the cruelty of warfare, Jack makes a lame excuse to go back home from the trench. When he passes through the trench, a mine explodes and blows him into bits. Jack meets an unpleasant death which is glorified as a great achievement by senior officers. 

The Colonel sends an officer with a letter to Jack’s mother. The letter from the Colonel speaks of the dead Jack in glowing terms to console the poor old mother over the death of her only son. The mother is down with grief for having lost her son on the one hand and holds her head high with pride for the supposed glorious death of her son on the other hand. The kind-hearted Officer who comes to meet Jack’s mother hides the harsh reality about Jack’s death from her. He does not want the old lady to get hurt. He rightly thinks that her pride over the heroic death of her son in the trench is the only consolation for her.   

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