Analysis Of Wilfred Owen 's ' Dulce Et Decorum Est ' And ' Mental Cases '

1315 Words May 24th, 2016 6 Pages
Wilfred Owen wrote about the suffering and pity of war from his firsthand experience at the Somme. He was appalled by the overwhelming and senseless waste of life, the “human squander” and detailed its devastating effects on young men. In both ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and ‘Mental Cases’ he writes with intense focus on war as an extraordinary human experience.
The poems also document other experiences, the living hell of shell-shock in ‘Mental Cases’ and a cruel and grotesque death from mustard gas in
‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. As an early twentieth century poet, Owen is careful in his attention to structure, rhyme and meter to convey meaning, and in his use of figurative language, especially in images conveying the sights and sounds of the battlefield and of trauma.

War changes young men and this is seen in the negative imagery and diction used by Owen. In ‘Mental Cases’ they are mentally ruined, their minds destroyed by the sight, sound and memories of so much death.
Death is personified as the ravisher of their minds, an image suggesting that the carnage of the battlefield has irrevocably robbed them of their innocence and of their selves. They now “leer”, with “jaws that slob”, unable to control their facial expressions or their minds. They are unable to comprehend the reality of the world around them, instead living inside a mental hell that replays the war daily, when “Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh”.

Owen uses ironic subversion in the opening stanza of…

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