An Analysis Of Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum Est, is a thought turning poem that really challenges the reader to ask him or herself where they stand on certain deep issues. In Dulce et Decorum Est, the author Wilfred Owen, sought after the issues of warfare, patriotism, and different versions of reality. Wilfred Owen addresses these issues by telling the experience one soldier has while coming back from a battle (believed to be during World War I). The soldier describes the turmoil and hardship of war, then tells of a hazardous gas attack. In which this attack one of his comrades was unable to put his gas mask on in time, and now every time he dreams he sees his face full of suffering. The soldier then challenges any person that if they experiences what he witnessed you …show more content…
One has to understand the purpose for the author writing such a piece of literature. Wilfred Owen’s purpose of writing this poem seems to be to tell a story that evokes emotions and subjects the reader into deep thought into a very deep issues, the issues earlier stated. The first theme of this poem is warfare, Wilfred Owen shows warfare for what it really is, a gruesome and unforgiven chain of events. He uses imagery, like “men marched asleep” and “drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of disappointed shells that dropped behind” to show the tiring, but the onward push of coming back from battle (1101). Another theme Wilfred Owen uses is patriotism, he incorporates this theme by using a quote from Horace “it is sweet and proper to die for one’s country” (1101). In this quote Horace seems to believe that patriotism, on the warfront, is a kind and proper, even in the face of death. Many, including Wilfred Owen believes this couldn’t be farther than the truth. One critic had this to say about the theme of patriotism in Dulce et Decorum Est:
Owen turns patriotic fervor into a kind of deadly life force. The people at home just can't understand how horrible life on the front actually is. The soldiers in war can't remember why they are fighting. Everyone, it seems, is lost: lost in a fog of war or in the useless ideals that sacrifice youth at the altar of national glory. (Shmoop Editorial
…show more content…
In reader-response criticism the reader is key to understanding a literary piece. For example, a war veteran and a politician will probably have two very different opinions about the war. Reader-response criticism also analyzes the features of a story that guide a reader’s reading. An example of this is when the solider in Dulce et Decorum Est says, “if in some smothering dreams you too could pace behind the wagon that we flung him in…” the quote guides the reader to think of how he or she might feel is they were in the soldier's position, of watching his fellow comrade come to a painful death (1101). Finally, reader-response criticism emphasizes rereading for a new understanding that the reader might have missed the first time. An example of this is after rereading the poem I realized there is two possible meanings for the statement, “you would not tell with such high zest to children for some desperate glory” (1101). One of the possible meanings is that a war veteran wouldn’t brag to children for a sense of recognition. The second, and the meaning I believe fits best, is that older men and women of society should not be praising war in such a positive light to young adults and teenagers. The reason for this is because at this young age, we often seek attention in the wrong places or as Wilfred Owen puts it “desperate glory”

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