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Compare and Contrast Rupert Brooke's 'The Solider' with Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est.'

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast Rupert Brooke's 'The Solider' with Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est.' Although 'The Soldier' by Rupert Brooke and 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen are concerned with the common theme of war, the two poems contrast two very different views of war. 'The Soldier' gives a very positive view of war, whereas Owen's portrayal is negative to the extreme. Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier' is very patriotic as Brooke loves his country and is ready to die for it. This perhaps is not surprising as it was written in the first few months of war when the whole country was swept by a tide of patriotic fervour. Rather ironically for a war poem 'The Soldier' is a peaceful poem, as it doesn't describe the blood and death of war like 'Dulce et Decorum Est.'. Brooke's love for his country, however, is somewhat jingoistic and his view of England is rather sentimental. There are many examples of his love for his country, one of which is 'A body of England's, breathing English air.' Brooke also thinks that his country is superior to any other land: 'a richer dust concealed '. To an outsider this is a rather conceited view; thinking that an Englishman's rotting corpse would act as some superior fertilizer. But to his patriotic readers, this only intensified his main arguing point; his conviction that England is worth dying for. ...read more.

Middle

He also uses alliteration to exaggerate the beauty of his country: 'Her sights, her sounds', conveniently forgetting her slums and industrial landscapes in his efforts to glorify England. Owen, in contrast, had no such illusions about either his country or the war. When Owen penned 'Dulce et Decorum Est' in 1917, he had witnessed too much death to write about it in the painless terms of Brooke. Like Brooke, Owen uses alliteration; but unlike Brooke, Owen uses it to show the reality of war, not to mask its horror: 'Bent double, like old beggars under sacks / knock-kneed ......' This image of soldiers is so far from the stereotype of the heroic, upright soldier, it is hard to believe. But worse is to follow: 'coughing like hags'. Owen paints a picture more like the three witches from Macbeth than young men in the prime of life. But this is exactly Owen's point: to show what terrible transformations the horror of war can enact. Owen's use of these similes shows the reality of War - Soldiers stripped not just of their battle-dress, but even their humanity. The loss of their boots, causing them to limp 'blood-shod', sounds more like the description of a lame animal than a human being. But the slow procession back to their 'distant rest' is suddenly transformed by 'gas shells dropping behind'. The urgency of the situation is shown by the poet's use of short sentences and exclamation marks: 'Gas! ...read more.

Conclusion

After reading 'Dulce et Decorum Est', most people would surely change their minds, and like Owen realise that such a view of war is outdated and just propaganda: 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. It is as if Owen's poem is a reply to 'The Solider'. It is likely that Owen would have been familiar with the poetry of Brooke and indeed Owen's earlier poetry showed a similar patriotic tone. But the harsh reality of war quickly changed his views and gave us some of the best anti-war poetry ever written. Looking back over time, we can easily be critical of Brooke's rather na�ve view of war. But to be fair, he could not know what the next three years of war would bring and was only reflecting the patriotic mood of the early months of war. His view is much influenced by the Victorian poets, such as Tennyson, whose 'Charge of the Light Brigade' saw war as romantic and glorious with valiant cavalrymen charging the enemy on horses. But the First World War was to change all that. This was a twentieth century war with aeroplanes, machine-guns, tanks and gas, which Owen witnessed at first-hand and through his pen, changed not only war poetry, but how future generations have thought about war and the horrors it brings: And watch the white eyes writhing in his face. His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin. - 1 - ...read more.

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