How Wilfred Owen Uses Language and Imagery in His Poetry to Communicate his Attitudes of War

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How Wilfred Owen Uses Language and Imagery in His Poetry to Communicate his Attitudes of War

Wilfred Owen was concerned to emphasise the hardships and trials of

the soldiers who fought in the First World War. Wilfred Owen, who died

subsequently after receiving mortal wounds while in combat in the war,

had some strong viewpoints and messages about war which he tried to

convey through his poetry. He had three main viewpoints which included

most or all of his feelings. These were firstly, that war is futile

and pointless; secondly that men lose their humanity and dignity

through war; finally, he wants combat the Government propaganda that

painted a sweet picture of war. He wanted to convey a message

expressing the reality, horror and futility of war. He also felt

strongly towards the idea that the generals and offices treated the

ordinary soldiers with contempt and didn't care for them. He also felt

that the soldiers were treated like insignificant pawns in a game

which they didn't know the rules to. Further he tried to attack the

blind patriotism or jingoism, which is basically people who believe in

the idea that their country and leaders are always right that they are

happily willing to die for them.

Owen highlights the horrific conditions in which the soldiers fought

to show the futility of war. In the poem 'The Sentry' he describes the

rain as "guttering down in waterfalls of slime", the use of the made

up word of "guttering" to add huge emphasis to the extent of downpour

through mimicking 'gutter'. Also the use of the colloquial language,

"waterfalls" and "slime" adds extra power to almost unbearable

conditions these men had to fi...

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... in the poem 'Dulce et

Decorum est' by writing

"Bent double like old beggars under sacks"

This shows how the once proud lively young men have been reduced to

being aged, crippled and filthy.

Another matter that Owen tries to deal with through his poetry is that

he wants to combat the Government propaganda. He does this very

effectively and bluntly in the last lines of the poem 'Dulce et

Decorum est',

"My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori."

This is simply expressing that if anyone had been in the war they

would not tell young men the same story as the Government propaganda

which tells of the glories of dying for their country as they would

realise the reality and true horror of war.
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