Winston Churchill's "The Influenza" In Term Paper

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Disease Type: Term Paper Paper: #60267969 Related Topics: Bleak House, Wind, Symbolism, Deadly Force
Excerpt from Term Paper :

The country's warriors are described as "symbolic of initial human strength." Once again the adjective is of importance. The word "initial" signifies the state before disease. Once the disease has its hold, however, all human strength falters and the struggle becomes futile and indeed fatal.

Churchill also uses a number of symbolic assertions in association with the disease itself. These include "loathsome hand and poisonous sting" and "poisonous breath and blighted wing." There is nothing to redeem the reputation of the influenza. It is the words of all things on earth. The diction used, such as "sting" and "wing" further emphasizes the inhuman quality of the disease. It is seen in terms of a type of insect, despite the personifying effects of words like "hand" and "breath." The adjectives "loathsome" and "poisonous" negates any personification that can be ascribed to the disease. It is later personified as a "cruel, unconquerable foe," which leaves its victims and its families with an utterly powerless feeling. This feeling signifies that the disease is a foe without any pity, unlike a human one. In using the personification "foe" then, Churchill emphasizes the fact that the disease is far from human or any human enemy. A human enemy for example would generally, in most cases, demonstrate some discretion as to who is the focus of attack. To not do so is to be utterly without humanity, which is the nature of the disease.

The turning point in the poem comes in the form of "Father Neptune," symbolic of the sea, served to break the supernatural force was required. In this way he ascribes to the sea a more mythical than natural character in succeeding where no other human or natural force could. Furthermore, the sea as a symbol is dichotomous; it is capable of both kindness and violence. In terms of the disease, it was able to break its hold through the sheer volume of its barrier.

In general, the poem indicates that the disease is almost unconquerable, until at last some supernatural power acts to save the human race from complete annihilation. It is interesting to note that, during the beginning of the 19th century, there was a further outbreak of the disease, which indiscriminately ravaged the world's population (Billings). It is almost as if Churchill's poem is prophetic and supernatural in this sense.

Sources

Billings, Molly. "The Influenza Pandemic of 1918." June, 1997. http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/

The Churchill Centre. "The Collected Poems of Sir Winston Churchill." 2006. http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=463

W.W. Norton & Company. "The nineteenth century: Realism and Symbolism." http://www.wwnorton.com/nawest/content/overview/realism.htm

Sources Used in Documents:

Sources

Billings, Molly. "The Influenza Pandemic of 1918." June, 1997. http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/

The Churchill Centre. "The Collected Poems of Sir Winston Churchill." 2006. http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=463

W.W. Norton & Company. "The nineteenth century: Realism and Symbolism." http://www.wwnorton.com/nawest/content/overview/realism.htm


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