Overview of Dulce et Decorum Est

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“Dulce et Decorum Est” (1918), a poem by Wilfred Owen, provides readers with a view of war contrary to the romanticized portrayals common during the early 20th century. Owen, born in 1893, died fighting in World War I in 1918. This British writer amplified the basic theme of the poem by beginning the poem in iambic pentameter; later, he diverged from the poetic form to submerge the reader into the chaotic and desperate atmosphere of the poem. The author’s main idea reflects the haunting tragedy and irony of war in a passionate plea to those who appeal to the youth with glorified ideas of battle.

The dramatic situation, of this poem, provides information about the speaker, audience, and plot. “Dulce et Decorum Est” is told from the viewpoint of a soldier. The speaker is a character in the poem, and the use of “we” and “I” determine that the poem is written in first person point of view. The speaker addresses those who would present the idea of fighting as a soldier in the war, as a noble and heroic action. The story takes place during a gas-attack on a British company during World War I (Moran). The use of past and present verb tenses explains the impact of the events on the narrator and the tone of the poem. The past tense is used in describing the war scene and situation, but the present tense, used to describe the dreams of the narrator, exemplifies the unforgettable nature of the events. The tone of desperation, bitterness, and irony reflects the speaker’s motivation.

The first stanza of this poem immediately immerses the reader in the experience of battle, and it depicts the desperate and dilapidated nature of the soldiers. The use of the simile “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” emphasizes the sad condition of t...

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...during wartime. The dramatic situation in this poem follows the speaker who is a soldier. The dramatic examples and word choice submerges the reader into horrific scenes of war. The impact of war on a soldier is well developed, and the consequences of these experiences are examined as an effort to implore and correct the audience. “Dulce et Decorum Est” provides the reader with information perhaps needed to understand that romanticized visions of war are contrary to reality.

Works Cited

Lutz, Kimberly. “Overview of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Online. Literature Resource Center. 11 May 2011.

Moran, Daniel. “Overview od ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Michael L. LeBlanc. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Online. Literature Resource Center, 11 May 2011.
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