Essay on The Negative View of Society in Wilfred Owen's Poetry

Essay on The Negative View of Society in Wilfred Owen's Poetry

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Dulce et Decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth are both written by Wilfred Owen, and both are written to show “the war [World War I] and the pity of war”. Owen does this by regaling very sad and often shocking poems that I believe are very effective in delivering their purpose. Both poems present negative views of society through tone and metaphors and Dulce et Decorum est also uses similes.

A poem that presents a negative view on society is Dulce et Decorum est. It is a satirical poem about the old Latin saying it is entitled after. Through this poem Owen is trying to tell us that this old saying is a lie, and that war is much less glorious than many adults make it out to be. From the very first line “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” it is clear that Dulce Et Decorum Est is a very negatively toned poem. This is reinforced by other lines in the first stanza such as “All went lame; all blind” and “And towards our distant rest began to trudge”. This negative tone, which is brought about by the by the emotive language used (like “old” and “trudge”), creates a grim scene for the setting of the war. This depressing start for the poem presents war as a horrific place where young men do not find glory, but instead it is a place where hope is lost, and it is a place from which all regret venturing. After this gloomy first stanza, the second and third use many similes and metaphors to bring to our attention the revolting and shocking horrors that soldiers witness when at war. Similes such as “Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud” and “like a devil’s sick of sin” describe horrible images of a man slowly dying due to inhaling toxic gas. Through words such as ‘obscene’, ‘cancer’ and ‘sick’ these similes evoke emotions of disgus...


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...ess than what they deserved.

While Wilfred Owen’s poems carry heavy meanings and truths around World War I, I believe that the ideas he is trying to show us are still valid in today’s world. We often hear on the news about American or British soldiers that have been killed fighting in the middle-east, but we hear of these stories almost every day, and I think it is fair to say most people have become fairly de-sensitized to these stories. Wilfred Owen has helped me to realise that this is unacceptable. As societies we do not take any blame for the lives lost at war, but I think that we should be standing up for these soldiers, and demanding that no more lives be lost. Our societies are not giving these modern soldiers the respect they deserve for risking their lives. It is through Owen’s techniques of tone, similes and metaphors that he has helped me to see this.

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