Analysis of Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

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Analysis of "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

Based on the poem of "Dulce et Decorum Est", by Wilfred Owen.

Owens war poetry is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors

of war and of pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it.

It is "Dulce et Decorum Est" which provides a very dramatic and

memorable description of the psychological and physical horrors that

war brings about.

From the first stanza Owen uses strong metaphors and similes to convey

a strong warning. The first line describes the troops as being "like

old beggars under sacks". This not only says that the men are tired

but that they are so tired they have been brought down to the level of

beggars. "Coughing like hags" suggests that these young men (many who

were in their teens) were suffering from ill health due to the damp,

sludge and fumes from the decaying bodies of their fallen men at arms,

lying on their chests. It was also in the winter's of The Great War

where the events that, Owen speaks of took place, so they would have

been prone to pneumonias and other diseases.

By using the phrase "blood shod" Owen is describing how the troops

have been on their feet for days and never resting. "Drunk with

fatigue", echoes this view that the troops are wandering and stumbling

around aimlessly with no sense of direction or of purpose.

In the second stanza, the pace changes to one of urgency; Owen using

the word "Gas" in swift repetition demonstrates this. By doing this

Owen illustrates the urgency of a life and death situation, which

requires the need to put on their gas masks. Owen describes a horrific

scene unfolding in front of his very eyes, a scene of a man dying a

horrible death because he was too slow to put on his ...

... middle of paper ... changes to one of questioning

hopelessness and of quiet resignation with the onset of death. Owen

demonstrates this by asking the reader to think, "Think how it wakes

the seeds- Woke, once, the clays of a cold star". Here the reader can

see that the suggestion of clay as being cold and lifeless and that

when the sun tries to warm clay, it in fact bakes it hard.

In lines 3, 4 and 5, "Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,

Full-nerved - warm-to hard too hard to stir? Was it for this the clay

grew tall?" the reader can begin to ask the age old questions, "why?"

and "Are we here for just this reason, too die for the sake of

pointless wars that occur through mans own greed of power?


Owen, Wilfred. "Dulce et Decorum Est." Perrine?s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 7th ed. Ed. Thomas R. Arp. Ft. Worth: Harcourt, 1998. 565-566.
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