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January 31, 2012

The General by Sigfried Sassoon- Analysis

The General by Sigfried Sassoon- Analysis

Siegfried Sassoon's The General was originally published in 1918.This poem is one of Siegfried Sassoon's anti-war poems. After the death of one of his close friends he started questioning the validity of the war. He praised the war heroes, but damned those in charge. In WWI, many men died, because of the incompetence of those in charge and Sassoon highlights that here, in this poem.

The General appears to be very chipper, which is the polar opposite of how the soldiers felt. The General most likely did not spend any time at the front line and did not see all the death and misery that happened there; so he is not as sad and depressed as his men.

The soldiers are dying on the front line and the General does not seem to care; he doesn't even seem to notice that some men are missing. He seems to have a blasé attitude about the soldiers; he does not care if they die as long as he does not have to see them die. He tries to remain unattached to his soldiers because he knows that statistically many will die and it is easier to not get invested.

It is the orders given by the General and his staff that are getting these men killed. The General, not ever going to the front line, has no real idea what is going on there and he is giving orders that are not in the soldier's best interest.

They are returning to the front line; following the orders of incompetent men. These lines celebrate the heroism of these men; even though they know that it is a futile mission they still go to the front line to defend their country. Arras is a city in northern France. This city was where the front line was located throughout much of WWI. The British's attack on the Western Front was known as the Battle of Arras, which occurred on April 9, 1917.

This line is the most bitterly ironic of the poem. Harry and Jack went back to the front line and were killed all because they followed the General's orders.


Sassoon, Siegfried. "The General." The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Twentieth Century and After. Vol. F. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 1961-2.