How is it possible to completely shut out reality through imagination? Well during the romantic period this was the question that lingered in the minds of Realist writers. During this time Realist authors were the individuals who accepted life for what it was and didn’t sugar coat reality. Unlike Romantic writers that were known to view life idealistically and only through their imagination.
Opposing these Romantic tendencies, Realist author Stephen Crane further communicated his stance by writing the poem ‘War is Kind’ to reprove these unrealistic romantic ideas. Crane’s poem regards to the reality of war and its impacts which is significant as it connects to his position of valuing truth above all. Additionally, in this poem, Crane depicts Realism by exhibiting the truth about war and its brutal effects which he also emphasizes through his utilization of the literary devices repetition and irony to convey the theme that war is not kind.
Crane portrays Realism in his poem by presenting the truth about war and its outcomes while also including the literary elements repetition and irony to convey the message that war is cruel. Throughout the poem, Crane repetitively incorporates the words ‘Do not weep. / War is kind'(1-26). The restatement of this ironic assertion is significant as it trying to assure the reader that war is good yet its the cause of people’s suffering, and their grief for those they have lost.
Specifically, this is the reality of war and Crane uses this quote to relate back to the reality that people die at war and their loved ones are left coping with the death and trying to convince themselves they died honorably and for a purpose. However, it does not change the fact that the person is gone as a result of being in combat, and by recognizing this Crane helps the reader understand his message that war is cruel. Another ruthless aspect of war Crane hints at in his poem, is that people do not care about the individual going to war instead people care that there is a body going to fight for the nation.
To explain this Realism Crane repeatedly included the line ‘These men were born to drill and die'(8-19). Essentially, Crane is revealing that those who serve, are nothing more than soldiers committed to honoring and defending the nation. He’s indicating through repetition, the reality that aspects of war indeed are brutal considering nobody truly cares about the individual giving up their life to serve. All and all, Crane accurately uses repetition as well as irony to help indicate his portrayal of Realism regarding the ruthlessness of war and its effects along with the theme that war is unmerciful.
Furthermore, throughout the poem, Crane continues to apply irony and repetition to show his depiction of realism in terms of war and its brutalities, along with his main point that war is cruel. In the poem, Crane connects with a harsh aspect of battle, the command for soldiers to kill. To achieve this Crane incorporates the ironic statement ‘Point for them the virtue of slaughter / Make plain to them the excellence of killing'(20-21).
Crane utilizes irony because, in reality, the act of slaughter and killing are not righteous and soldiers do not find killing their opponent enjoyable or rewarding. Soldiers are humans, they have emotions, they care and value the lives of others, ending a life damages them just the same as it would anyone else. Yet they are still forced to because it’s the reality of war, and as Crane portrayed the reality of war throughout the poem, he makes the reader understand that war is brutal. Unfortunately, this is not the only awful aspect of war Crane proves, as he repeatedly emphasized: ‘A field where a thousand corpses lie’ (11-22).
Here again, another repeated line is used to emphasize the Realism of war and how countless lives are lost. Considering war is the reason for death and loss it supports Crane’s message that war is cruel. As a whole, Crane precisely uses irony and repetition to help show his illustration of realism concerning the harshness of war and its outcomes along with the theme that war is cruel.
Overall, in this poem, Crane describes realism by showing the truth about war and its harsh effects which he furthermore highlights by his usage of the literary elements repetition and irony to communicate the theme that war is unkind. Throughout the poem, Crane addresses negative aspects of war but tries to make them more reassuring, this way he can use irony and sarcasm to indicate the real conflicts of war without a sugar coat.
It should be noted that through Cranes overall points he connects to a bigger thought that even though the object of war is defeating the enemy and gaining power, wealth, or freedom. Is it really worth all the pain and loss that comes with it? War will never stop being cruel and devastating it is time for the public to recognize the reality that there are better ways to handle world problems and general conflicts.