Review of Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
Length: 682 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)
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Owen. This poem was written about a soldier who dies in a hideous
fashion. He dies walking back to his campsite, tired, miserable and
bloodied from fighting for his country. In his state of weariness he
is hit with a gas bomb. He doesn't fit his gas mask on in time and
chokes to death. This poem was written with horrifying description of
how the soldier died to make the readers think that it is not fit and
sweet to die for ones country. Hence the old lie 'Dulce et decorum est
pro patria moré'
In this poem Owen focuses on the theme of death. He uses 'realistic
imagery' in many ways; he wants to make the poem seem so real that the
readers can actually imagine walking alongside the troops.
In the first stanza of the poem we are told much about the men's
appalling conditions. Owen introduces the soldiers as 'Bent beggars'
and 'knock kneed' this tells us that the soldiers are extremely tired,
and are hunched. This description of the men shows us how physically
ill they have now become. The simile 'curse like hags' is telling us
how the soldiers cursed God for putting them through the hellish time
that the have endured.
By using the term 'sludge' Owen is describing to the readers what the
ground has been turned into as it has been continuously hit with
shells, and has been rained and trampled on. The phrase
'Limped on blood-shod'
Shows, that despite the fact that the men's feet are bloodied, they
would still continue to struggle on with determination to get back to
camp were they can then rest their helpless bodies. This line backs up
the image of pain that Owen is trying to show us.
By use of punctuation Owen uses a slow rhythm to show readers how
slowly the soldiers are walking. The poet also uses metaphors to
illustrate how tired these men are. The metaphor 'Drunk with fatigue'
suggests that perhaps the men have become so tired that the have no
idea what is happening around them. The words 'blind' and 'lame' also
suggest to me that their senses are debilitated in some ways. The
suggestion of the soldiers being senseless is backed up with the line
'Deaf even to the hoots of shells dropping softly behind'
Another metaphor that reinforces this is 'men marched asleep' this
again tells me how tired the men are. You could say were walking
almost unconsciously but at the same time not daring to fall asleep in
fear of being killed.
In Dulce et death is the gas bomb which is thrown upon the men, they
are so used to hearing these bombs going off that they do not realise
what has happened until someone shouts
'Gas, Gas Quick, boys!'
These weary soldiers have suddenly been turned into clumsy panic
stricken men in search for their gas masks. Owen uses direct speech
for this line to create a panicky effect. The men have trouble putting
on the large and clumsy masks; they fumble around fitting them on just
in time. But for one man this isn't quick enough, he yells out for
'Like a man on fire'
This simile describes the tormenting pain the man is enduring and
despite his efforts the fumes still manage to reach him.
'Under a green sea I saw him drowning'
Makes this mans death seem almost calm but then the next image brings
the readers back to reality. As Owen watches helplessly the man
plunges at him
'Guttering, choking drowning'
These words describe in vivid detail the horrifying pain this soldier
is enduring. Then the other soldiers 'flung' his body into a wagon and
watched as his eyes roll back into his 'hanging face'. Owen tells us
in great detail of how this man dies by using similes such as
'Like a devils sick of sin'
This simile tells us how desperate the man fought for his life. We are
told the sound of the blood 'gargling' from his 'froth-corrupted
lungs', which tells us he was choking. The simile 'obscene as cancer'
is their to describe the sores on the mans tongue - anything that is
compared to cancer is surely horrid.
Owens response to this sickly ordeal is to put people of telling their
children it is sweet and fitting to die for ones country, the
experience that these soldiers shared showed them that it is not
honourable in any way to die at war.
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was a poet; Born in Shropshire and born in
March 18th, 1893 and died on November 4th, 1918. Before the war in
1915 he was a private tutor in France, he liked teaching but after
visiting some young men in hospital during the war he decided to go
back to England and sign up.
After some traumatising experiences Owen injured in Somme and sent
home, but returned to the war in August of 1918. Just a week before
the Armistice Wilfred was involved in a machine gun attack enforced by
the Germans and died in action on the Sambre Canal. He was just
twenty-five when he died.