Anger and Injustice Described in Wilfred Owen's Poem Dulce et Decorum est

Anger and Injustice Described in Wilfred Owen's Poem Dulce et Decorum est

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The poem "Dulce et Decorum est" was written by Wilfred Owen during World War One, and is probably the most popular war-poem ever written.The title is part of the Latin phrase 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori' which means 'It is sweet and right to die for your country'. Wilfred Owen saw the war first-hand and this poem is about a gas attack that he witnessed. Throughout this poem Owen gives the sense of anger and injustice through the use of many different poetic techniques.


Wilfred Owen emphasises the condition of the men in order to show the reader the effect that the war had on the soldiers. He often compares the young soldiers to elderly people:
"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks"
In this simile the soldiers are being compared to old beggars because of their physical condition. They are 'bent double' as the weight of the sacks mean they can't walk properly despite being young, healthy soldiers. As well as this, this war aged them permanently. Wilfred Owen continues to describe the condition of the soldiers and again he compares them to old people with the use a simile:
"Knock-kneed, coughing like hags"
Knock-kneed is a figure of speech but the author could also mean the soldiers' knees were literally knocking together due to their injuries and the weight of the sacks. This line also describes the cough of the soldiers as being like an old persons cough - deep and hoarse. Owen also wants to tell us that the soldiers were overworked and extremely tired:
"Drunk with fatigue"
Word choice in this metaphor is interesting. You wouldn't normally associate 'drunk' with an on-duty soldier and this shows us how they are walking - basically staggering around. 'Fatigue' means that they are more than just tired, th...


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...ways. It can be literal and mean that what has happened can't be fixed - soldiers are dead or the injuries will stay with the wounded forever. It can also mean that the survivors will never forget what they saw. Owen then reminds us that these soldiers are innocent and this war is corrupting them when it shouldn't be and this creates the feeling of injustice.


In conclusion, I think that throughout this poem Wilfred Owen has created a mood of anger and injustice. He has done this effectively by using poetic techniques such a imagery, metaphors, similes, alliterations and rhyme. To make the reader feel the same he shocks them with the true horror of the war and involves them in the poem by using words such as 'you'. Owen's true anger and bitterness comes clear at the end with the ironic statement at the end:
"The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori."

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