Analysis Of Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce Et Decorum Est'

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Wilfred Owen, an esteemed poet, used his experiences in the trenches of France during World War One as a basis for the skilfully crafted text, “Dulce et Decorum Est”. Owens purpose, to condemn the disillusioned and glorified ideals that that it is honourable and sweet to die for one’s nation, and instead expose wars ‘real nature’, is achieved through the utilisation of various poetic devices, including powerful imagery, harsh sounds, tone and the manipulation of structure. By establishing a sombrely bitterly tone, and highlighting themes of suffering, horror and dehumanisation of soldiers, Owen conveys the concern war is pitiful, rather than glorious, to a highly successful extent.
Owens structural choices in the ‘Dulce et Decorum’ reflect
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Initially, the soldiers are compared to “old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed, coughing like hags.” A clear image is presented, which is a stark contrast to the stereotype of strong, brave, young heroes, in cleanly pressed uniforms, marching upright and with pride. Instead, these soldiers are frail, and weighted by exhaustion, as their once prideful uniform now sags. These men are fatigued to the point that death could be considered a ‘distant rest,’ as they ignore the dangers of ‘gas shells dropping softly behind’. This use of metaphor evokes the reader’s emotions, as it highlights the loss of youth, and hardships soldiers endured, as they realise that war does not resemble the nobility and romanticised visualisations. In the latter of the poem, the dying soldiers faced are eluded to ‘a devils sick of sin.’ This could suggest the devil, whose sole purpose is atrocity, finds no joy in the suffering of these soldiers, and a devil questioning his focus on sin could be parallel with the soldiers questioning their beliefs in the patriotism of war. However, the most vivid imagery is presented in the dying soldier. The nameless man’s falling prey to the poisonous gas draws comparisons to falling prey to the ocean, and fighting for his last breath. The repeated use of ‘face’ in lines 19 and 20 tries to imitate the disfiguration occurring, …show more content…
The first stanza is dominated by commas, colons and heavy, multi-syllable words in order to reflect the languid and laborious movements of the soldiers as they “trudge” with difficulty. However, in the second stanza, single syllable words are featured, such as “gas! Gas” used to convey the sense of urgency, while this heightened confusion and chaos is represented by the repeated ‘um’ sounds, as they are “fumbling,” “clumsy” “someone” and “stumbling”. Finally, Owen uses harsh cacophony as the language turns accusatory against those who glamorise warfare with words such as “”. Alliteration is also used to convey these atrocities, as “watch the white eyes writhing” insists onto the reader the pain and torment of the dying man, whose death is not patriotic, rather just painful. This is paired with onomatopoeia, where words resemble their sounds, such as “gargling” and “gurgling”, in order to confront the reader and force them to share the agony of the dying soldier. Consistently throughout the poem, there is a rhyming scheme, of alternative groups of four (ABAB) used to develop the despairing atmosphere. Thus, these combinations of sound techniques strengthen the themes of

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