A compare and contrast essay on the presentation o Essay

This essay has a total of 2494 words and 10 pages.

A compare and contrast essay on the presentation of words and silence in the novels
Regeneration by Pat Barker and Strange Meeting By Susan Hill.


Barker has written Regeneration laid in England in 1917, the novel is populated by a
mixture of real and imaginary people. One of the real characters is the soldier and poet,
Sigfried Sassoon. We meet him after he has been awarded a medal for heroism in WWI, and
has publicly denounced the war as one of aggression and conquest in defiance of military
orders. Instead of having a court martial, he is sent to Craiglockhart Hospital to be
treated as a "shell shocked" casualty by Dr. William Rivers another real character.
Craiglockhart was what we today would call a neuro-psychiatric hospital, and Rivers is a
practitioner of psychoanalysis. His job is to get men well, by carrying out particular
methods such as getting the men to recall their disturbing events and then to speak about
them, so they can return to the front. Sassoon, Rivers, and other real and fictional
characters are interwoven in this tale.

The experiences and stories of Regeneration are greatly inspired by historical events and
sociological influences. Bringing real life poets and their experiences together with a
fictional plot surrounding the great war, Barker has been able to produce a novel from an
intriguing blend of fact and fiction, one that conveys several aspects of history.

Strange Meeting on the other hand is set against the horrors of the First World War, this
novel portrays the friendship of two young officers. Hilliard is a veteran of combat, a
reserved and isolated young man who prefers the stark reality of the front line "why had
it been so easy to sleep up there, to sleep through the noise of guns?", where he follows
orders and makes only simple decisions based on life or death, to the political and social
complications of his previous existence in England. Hill presents the characters as more
positively, psychologically affected by war, from which a main character John Hilliard
grows as a person and learns to love as a result of learning to communicate, speak and
express himself freely , as at the beginning of the novel he is portrayed as detached and
unable to feel or relate to those around him, (primarily his immediate family).
Comradeship between Hilliard and Barton, (another central character) appears to be the
most prominent component in the novel; however the exploitation of the silenced youth is
also explored throughout the novel.


He had been unhappy at home, where he could not talk to no one, nobody knew."
Both Regeneration and Strange Meeting provoke an anti war attitude through the indirect or
not so indirect emphasis on silencing. In the first few chapters of Strange Meeting Hill
presents us with Hilliard who is clearly presented as detached, withdrawn and repressing
emotions. This is reflected through Hill's use of narrative, we do not experience a lot of
Hilliard's speech, such use of narrative is vital to represent the lack of speech on
Hilliard's behalf. The narrative is full of descriptions of sound and listening "..where
old men aired their military opinions and he could not join in, just sit there,"….

"He had argued twice, bitterly, with his farther. But after that, stayed silent." Within
the first few pages Strange Meeting we experience Hilliard suffering with nightmares of
his experiences in the trenches, his suffering is in silence, as he wakes, crying out from
a nightmare but is worried any one may have heard him "He sat up quickly, to shut out the
sound of his own heart, thumping against the pillows…" The very thought that the
stereotypical soldier could be thought of as being scared certainly implies that there is
something exceptionally fear-provoking about the hostilities of war that are shown in the
novel.

Similarly Regeneration introduces us to a character very similar to John Hilliard.. Whilst
the novel is set in Craiglockhart we are introduced to patients attending Craiglockheart,
who are gravely wounded in spirit if not body; sometimes they are tormented by their
nightmares, revulsions, mutism, stammering, paralysis, especially the conscious closure of
the peoples eyes on the horrors of the war. One in which is Billy Prior, who when first
introduced is suffering from mutism, although Prior's silence is more severe than
Hilliard's in Strange Meeting , it is implied that Prior's mutism is by choice, like that
of Hilliard's in Strange Meeting . Further more Hilliard and Prior are very similar in
terms of their inability to communicate with their families. As a soldier who has had a
difficult life both at war and at home, Prior is a conflicted and complicated character.
From what we know, Prior is entirely fictional, which frees Barker from any constraints
linked to Prior\'s beliefs, past, or future. As a result, Prior is deeply nuanced in his
thoughts and reactions


We receive a glimpse of Prior\'s past when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Prior, come to visit
Craiglockhart. Prior\'s conflicted nature is not surprising, considering that his parents
come from such differing views with regard to their son\'s well being. Prior's father is a
slightly hardened man and would have preferred if his son didn't join the army "I'm not
proud. He should've stuck with his own ".

It is also implied that Prior's father almost resents his son " He seemed to have no
feeling for his son at all, except contempt". Whereas Prior's mother is a softer woman

Who seems to care for her son and is proud of him joining the army " she was determined he was going to get on.
Such emotional conflict clearly causes Prior stress; he develops a physical asthmatic
reaction to their visit. This is the way in which Barker presents the detachment of Prior
to his family as does Hill with Hilliard in Strange Meeting.


Hilliard's silence becomes prominent when he attempts to regain a bond that himself and
his sister once maintained. However he is unable to speak with her the dialogue in the
small bit of speech between Hilliard and Beth (sister) remain extremely formal, not
dialogue that would be considered of brother and sister. Hilliard is unable to speak with
his sister, she had not experienced the horrors of the front line or the re-occurring
nightmares due to the horrors, and ironically Hill gives u s a glimpse into the life Beth
has been pursuing in the absence of her brother,

"but she had busy, going out to lunch with their mother, helping with twice a week at
parties for soldiers on leave, leading a social life." The life Beth leads contrast with
great irony to the life that Hilliard leads, as Beth's life back in England appears to
reflect the great patriotic country. Who celebrate the honour and absence of their men, it
also presents the harsh reality that life must go on. This reality makes it very difficult
for the reader to relate to both the circumstances of the situation and to Beth's
character, whilst allowing for Hilliard to gain sympathy from the reader, his detachment
is understandable therefore allows for the reader to relate to his character which makes
all the better for reading the novel.

Detachment is also presented between Hilliard and his mother Constance Hilliard. Although
Constance insist on escorting Hilliard to the train station there is an obvious distance
between the two. This is appears to be highlighted through the metaphorical device Hill
uses;

"The sun shone, too, on the round walnut table which stood between them…"
A particular paradox that stood out in my mind, was the description of Constance outfit.
Which was described as one appropriate for a wedding "you look as if you were going to a
wedding, mother" the paradox being that Hilliard returning to the frontline would seem
Continues for 5 more pages >>