Fussell’s Argument about the Great War

Fussell’sArgument about the Great War

Themain argument by Fussell is that a war is an ironical engagement. Inthe chapter, Fussell argues that the British soldiers expected thewar to be easy when they started the battle. According to Fussell(10), the war was a deadlock by Christmas contrary to theexpectations for the war to be over by the time. However, the warextended to reach unimaginable extents in terms of the battle groundand time. More importantly, the war was ironically fatal on the sideof the British. Fussell argues that the British faced massivecasualties that they had not expected to have. This was not onlyshocking to them, but also heartbreaking due to the unexpected loss.

Inaddition, Fussell argues that the war could be explained as aliterary war. Fussell argues that the war presents irony andsatirical situation in modern memory. The satire and irony is becausethe war ended to be worse than the way it was planned or expected.According to Fussell (7), every war is an irony because it is worsethan expected. Through the reading Fussell explores the literarycontexts of the war that different writers who wrote about theimaginative and artistic meaning. Fussell presents the argument aboutthe war by basing the reading of literature about the World War 1.Fussell shows how the texts used in the reading reflected theexpansive changes that were brought by the Great War.

Fusselllays his argument in the chapter by the use of satire and irony. Heexplores the situation of the British at war from a satirical pointof view. To achieve this, Fussell (3) quotes the poem by Thomas Hardybecause it helps a person to ironically view the war. In addition,Fussell cites other poems that have ironical elements in theircontent. The use of Hardy’s poems is because of the assertion thatthe war itself is an irony. Therefore, he employs the works of ThomasHardy that work as examples of irony in order to present hisargument.

Topresent his argument in a better way, Fussell successfully relatesliterature to war and war to literature. Through the relation,Fussell has successfully provided a reading about the world war andan account of the British soldiers experienced the ironical war. Thechapter provides the experience of the soldiers, which memorializesthe irony of the British experience in the world war. The irony thathe describes in the reading reflects on the situation that theBritish army experienced. In addition, Fussell also organizes hisreading by focusing on different subjects on the Great War perchapter. This makes it literary convenient for him to present hisargument. In chapter one, he dedicates the reading to the satirebehind the war.

Topresent his argument, Fussell uses quotes from his other texts.Through the quotes, Fussell provides the experiences of the otherwriters in the presentation of the war to the world. For instance,the use of poems is effective to help the reader identify with theirony in the war. According to Fussell, the use of the quotes bringsto reality the level of horrors that the soldiers experienced in thetrenches during the war. Therefore, the descriptions combined withthe quotes help the reading to place the war in its time and place.

Iam not convinced by the argument by Fussell in terms of the realityof the Great War as well as the literary reflection of the battle. Ido not agree with the author that the war was a satirical eventualitythat the British found themselves in. This is because every war isfought with an expectation of opposition and fight back. At the sametime, there is an expectation of loss from the war, despite thestrategies implemented to reduce casualties. Therefore, thecircumstances that faced the British soldiers during the Great Warwere not ironical or satirical in reality. However, agree with hisaccount that the British soldiers faced a war that they did notexpect to be as long and fatal as the Great War was.

Tomake his argument more convincing, I would have appreciated ifFussell had included a number of examples of a similar war thatturned fatal for the side that was expected to win. This would shedmore light to the assertion that the Great War was satirical to theBritish soldiers. In addition, Fussell should have explained why hisargument is based on the British side and not from the other side ofthe antagonism during the Great War. This will cover all the readersinstead of a segregated audience that only relates to the British.

WhileFussell presents a great reading in the chapter, his argument ofirony is symbolized by the literary citations. Fussell argues in thismanner to present the satire that surrounds the Great War that sawthe British face unexpected length and fatalities in the battle.However, Fussell focuses on the British side of the story to show theirony in the war, which may not be the case with the opposing side.However, Fussell gives a detailed chronicle of the war through thereading.


Fussell,Paul. TheGreat War and Modern Memory.NewYork:Sterling Publishing Company, Inc, 2009, Print