Loss of Dignity in Dulce et Decorum est and Refugee Blues
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Human dignity, every person in the world has at least some sense of human dignity, whether they choose to show it, however pitiful they think they are, every person has sense of dignity, of value. Losing one’s dignity can be painful, more painful than a physical blow.
In Dulce et Decorum est, the writer, Wilfred Owen was a soldier fighting in World War One. He is writing about the horrors of being gassed by the enemy after fighting in the front lines, and ‘the old lie’: Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori, It is sweet and right to die for your country.
Refugee Blues was written just before World War Two by W.H. Auden, who is writing about the Jews being exiled from Germany which ultimately ended up with them being hunted down even before the events of the Holocaust actually happened. In both poems, the poems are written in a first person perspective which gives the reader a sense of participation, especially in Refugee Blues, where at the end of each stanza the words ‘my dear’ is written.
In Dulce et Decorum est, the initial lines of the poem states that the marching soldiers were,
‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,’
this takes the nobility out of war, and of course, giving the readers at that time period a sense of uncertainty to the title of the poem. The young soldiers are pictured to have lost their youth, health, and most importantly, their dignity.
This is similar to how the Jews in Refugee Blues were like in the beginning of the poem, where they were homeless and exiled, like beggars, as in most societies beggars are not respected as they cannot support themselves without people giving them money. Therefore beggars must suffer losing their dignity in order to survive.
Also, in Dulce et Decorum est, it shows that the soldiers were trying to get away from the front lines, ‘till on the haunting flares we turned our backs’. This is as if they were frightened of what lay behind them due to the word ‘haunting’, and in Refugee Blues this is displayed throughout the entire poem as the Jews were running away from Germany, but is really obvious in the second stanza. Running away from something you fear is also a form of loss of human dignity as it shows that you are frightened of the enemy and that they have power over you.