Dulce Et Decorum Est - Critical Response

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A poem which I have recently read is: “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen. The main point Wilfred Owen tries to convey in this poem is the sheer horror of war. Owen uses many techniques to show his feelings, some of which I’ll be exploring.

Wilfred Owen is a tired soldier on the front line during World War I. In the first stanza of Dulce Et Decorum Est he describes the men and the condition they are in and through his language shows that the soldiers deplore the conditions. Owen then moves on to tell us how even in their weak human state the soldiers march on, until the enemy fire gas shells at them. This sudden situation causes the soldiers to hurriedly put their gas masks on, but one soldier did not put it on in time. Owen tells us the condition the soldier is in, and how, even in the time to come he could not forget the images that it left him with. In the last stanza he tells the readers that if we had seen what he had seen then we would never encourage the next generation to fight in a war.

Owen uses imagery constantly to convey the conditions and feelings experienced during this war. Firstly I will be exploring Metaphor as it is used so much in this poem. The first metaphor which I will examine is: “Haunting Flares” on line 3 of the first stanza. This quote has so many connotations, my first opinion on this was that the flares which the enemy are firing to light up the battle field are said to be representing the souls of the soldiers fallen comrades. This could also be said to represent the power the enemy has on their own mortality as the bright flares would light up the battle-field exposing everything to their view, this indicates that the enemy always seem to have power upon the soldiers, almost godly. The second metaphor which I will explore is:
“An ecstasy of fumbling” on line one of the second stanza. This metaphor is significant as it describes the quick manner in which the soldiers will have been trying to put their masks on. The soldiers would have been trying to put their masks on in a hurry but due to their physical condition their minds would have been wanting them to go faster than their body would have been allowing them, this is why there is said to be a: “Fumbling”. The term: “Ecstasy” would normally suggest a time of extreme emotion, normally joy, however in this situation it is used as a term of irony as this is a completely b...

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...ration, onomatopoeia, rhyme etc. One of the sound types I will be looking at is Full or perfect rhyme. This sound type is significant as in Dulce Et Decorum Est at the end of each sentence rhymes with the one before the last. This is significant as when reading this poem you notice this rhyming scheme and take more time to stop and ponder over the significance of the language it is based around and what connotations that word has: “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” and “Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs”. This is one of the most effective rhyming schemes in the poem. Due to every second line rhyming this makes your remember what the poet was trying to put across in the previous lines as all the different lines have a way of tying in with one another.

Through reading this poem several times I decided that the message from the poem is that war is full of horror and there is little or no glory. Methods which I found most effective were Full rhyme and metaphor.

Overall Wilfred Owen shows that there is no triumph in war, he does this by using the dying soldier as an example. His main point is that the old saying: “Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” is a lie.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how owen refers to many subconscious states in his poem, such as sleep or dreams, which are reminders of past atrocities. the second image group is sea or drowning.
  • Analyzes how owen uses the phrase "as under a green sea i saw him drowning" when he views the soldier suffering the consequences of the gas attack.
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