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I'm trying to break down Wilfred Owen's Disabled, and I feel like there should be a device for describing his condition before and after the war. Girls treat him so differently. He used to be a football player, and now he can't even walk. Even the words used to describe how the girls look at him are different. It's "...glanced lovelier..." against "...passed from him..."

The contrast is so big that it just shows how much the character suffers.

It's not exactly juxtaposition because I'm talking about differences between stanzas. Is it some type of contrast?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs much more at Writing.SE than it does here. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 21 at 1:00
  • @JasonBassford: Surely this is just a [single-word-request]. – Gareth Rees Aug 21 at 18:22
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A tragic reversal of circumstance, such as the mutilation of the character in ‘Disabled’, is known as:

peripety n. 1. In classical tragedy (and hence in other forms of drama, fiction, etc.): a point in the plot at which a sudden reversal occurs. In extended use: a sudden or dramatic change; a crisis.

Oxford English Dictionary.

The word comes from Aristotle’s discussion of tragedy in Poetics:

[Peripety] is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity. Thus in the Oedipus, the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he is, he produces the opposite effect.

Aristotle (c. 335 BCE). Poetics 1.11. Translated by Samuel Henry Butcher (1922).

To describe a literary work that contains a dramatic contrast, such as the one between the character’s former happiness and current misery, you might use:

chiaroscuro, n. 3. figurative. Used of poetic or literary treatment, criticism, mental complexion, etc., in various obvious senses, as mingled ‘clearness and obscurity’, ‘cheerfulness and gloom’, ‘praise and blame,’ etc.

Oxford English Dictionary.

The term comes from the visual arts, where it refers to “the use of strong contrasts between light and dark” (Wikipedia).

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