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Literature and peace. A Project. Objectives:. Gather and analyse all the materials about peace we studied this year Find out how if and literary texts may promote peace. Materials. W. Shakespeare, Macbeth (Mondadori 1983), English and Italian version

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Literature and peace

A Project


  • Gather and analyse all the materials about peace we studied this year

  • Find out how if and literary texts may promote peace


  • W. Shakespeare, Macbeth (Mondadori 1983), English and Italian version

  • W. Shakespeare, Hamlet’s monolugue (Act III – Scene 1), from Hamlet

  • S. Sassoon, They

  • W. Owen, Futility from The Collected Poems, 1963


  • Textual analysis

  • Finding relationships between texts and peace

  • Class discussion and sharing ideas


  • Macbeth is a tragedy.

  • The title refers to the main character who is also the the tragic hero.

  • In Macbeth the natural order (symbol for peace) of Duncan’s Kingdom seems to be perfect but it is broken by the King’s murder.

  • Such event creates new wars and contributes to break Macbeth’s and his wife’s inner peace. The loss of inner peace makes Macbeth and his wife crazy.

  • In this play the obsessive search for power persuades Macbeth to change the natural order of things (symbol for peace)

  • Peace can only return with Macbeth’s death that re-establish the balance in the play.

  • The word “peace” appears very frequently in all the play (11 times).

  • It is often compared to silence; in fact when a character says “peace!” he means to “shut up”

  • The comparison can be drawn because peace is also symbol for the quietness Macbeth is unable to obtain.

Hamlet’s monologue

  • “To be or not to be” is the most famous line by Shakespeare, and also Hamlet’s monologue is one of the most known pieces of the Shakespearian play

  • The text is a monologue, that is it’s a piece of speech where a character expresses his or he most inner feelings.

  • The first line expresses the question: the question in Hamlet's mind is that he has to decide whether to be or not to be.

  • "To be" means "to live" but its meaning is wider because it includes life after death, too."Not to be" means "to sleep no more".

  • An important question that Shakespeare wants to ask is: is it nobler in the mind suffer and fight against the problems of life?

  • Shakespeare speaks about the problems of life using hyperboles: "a sea of troubles".

  • Shakespeare's answer is: the human being prefers suffering what he knows because he does not know what happens after death.

  • The metaphor "the undiscovered country" refers to what we don't know about life after death.

Poems from World War I: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfried Owen

  • S. Sassoon and Owen are “war poets”

  • In their poems they speak about war, changing its traditional vision.

  • All their poems convey an implicit message of peace.

Sigfried Sassoon’s They

Title expectation: the poem about people different from the speaking voice: the word “they” conveys the idea of distance.

The bishop’s point-of-view

when men come back from a war they are changed because “they have fought in a just cause”.

had the courage to fight against Anti - Christ.

The boys’point-of-view

People changed because war has mutilated their bodies.

V ery important line = the bishop “the decisions of God are very strange”

Words belonging to the semantic field of war: they are “fought”, “attack”, “comrades”…

Two points of view about war

Positive consideration of war: it can change everybody if fought for a just cause (in this poem the war is against Anti-Christ).

The bishop justifies the war using some abstract words like “Anti-Christ”, “honour”, “just cause” and “God”.

The soldiers’ negative viewpoint about war

Phrases like “lost both his legs”, “Bill’s stone blind”, “Bert’s gone syphilitic” underline all the negative aspects of war.

The last line of the poem

nobody can understand the ways of God which

seem very strange.

Sigfried Sassoon’s Glory of Women

Title expectations: poem about some happy women?

2 words glory + women.

  • Soldiers criticize women’s point of view love soldiers when they come back from the war’s disgrace as heroes .

  • Women do not know the real face of war: they have rehtoric beliefs.

  • Lots of words from the semantic field of war underline different points of view between soldiers and women

  • Women cannt really understand war  they are too distant and they can only mourn their soldiers and pray.

  • They also hope that their men will return as heroes so they will carry on loving them.

  • The soldier’s point of view is very different: they know what war really is and so they can’t convey a positive idea of war.

  • The poet wants to underline that war is unimaginable for those who do not fight.

Wilfried Owen’s Futility

  • The title consists of an uncountable noun, similar to the Italian adjective "futile“.

  • Maybe the poet wanted to illustrate what is useless in men's life?

  • Words from the semantic field of nature: "sun", "field", " morning", "snow", "seeds", "clay", "star" and "earth".They represent the never-ending cycle of nature

  • Repetition of words "move", "awake", "rouse", "know", "wakes" and "think" underlining the sense of futility of men’s life.

  • Important metaphor: “Woke, once, the clays of a cold star”.

  • Comparison: star to a dead man: a star is cold as is a dead man.

  • All the poem tries to ask a question about men’s futile life.

  • Exclamation: “O what made fatuous sunbeams toil”.

  • Men’s life is very futile for the poet because he saw lots of war’s atrocities.

Class discussions about peace

  • Peace is very important for everybody because it allows to live a very good life and it creates the conditions to improve and culture.

  • The loss of peace is very frequent in our society because war is very important for the economy of some countries.

  • Today there are a lot of wars all around the world: Israel and Palestine, the conflicts in Africa, the situation in Afghanistan and in Iraq…

  • But war is not only the lack of peace: it is man’s obsessive search for power that makes him crazy.

  • Men always want to become rich and commit crimes and other delinquencies to reach their intent.

  • In peace human rights are respected.

  • To safeguard a human balance means to avoid new wars.

  • The global community has to understand that keeping a global balance is an urgent responsibility for everybody.

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