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Dulce et Decorum est.

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Dulce et Decorum est Sammie Whyte The bloody slaughter and sheer injustice of World War One was shrouded in the lies and misconceptions of a glorious heroic war. Back in Britain, far away from the dropping shells and continuous machine gun fire, propaganda about the wonderful deeds happening out on the front line was being fed out to the public through a government controlled media. Many young men - little more than boys - were encouraged to sign up to fight for a war that in reality was little more than a mass slaughter. One way that the utter devastation and unimaginable extent of death, could pass through the censored media to the mis-led public was through poets like Wilfred Owen who had fought on the front line. Arguably Owen's best piece, if not the best piece of literature to result from such a disaster, Dulce et Decorum est portrays the utter exhaustion and fear, as well as bereavement and horror, felt by the soldiers during the First World War. Owen uses techniques to emphasize and really bring home the devastation and terror. ...read more.


Also, "bent double" is a severe contrast to the proud upright view of soldiers, as "bent double" suggests someone worthless with little self-confidence let alone pride. Beginning the poem by contradicting customary views of war, Owen draws the reader further into the poem. Visual imagery is again used successfully later in the first stanza when Owen makes the comparison between the soldiers and beasts of burden. This is evident in this quote; "But limped on, blood-shod." It is apparent that Owen is comparing the soldiers to horses - frequently used as beasts of burden - by his use of "shod", a term used to describe the process of attaching iron horseshoes to the hooves of horses. Owen uses the comparison to represent the way in which soldiers were treated during the war. More specifically, the way the soldier's were 'kept' in small cramped spaces with dismal food and then 'herded' out of trenches in front of the enemy guns to be slaughtered. The lack of dignity and respect, as well as the atrocious conditions faced by the soldiers, are akin to the conditions faced by beasts at the slaughterhouse, this is clearly the point Owen makes here. ...read more.


By again using an onomatopoeic word, Owen shows the contrast to a slow, steady funeral ride and shows how the undignified soldiers and their treatment contrast to the home-felt sense of glory and honour. Owen's own personal opinion of the soldiers' predicament is made clear in the last stanza. He addresses the reader as "you" and the tone changes from being a general non-accusatory tone to a direct almost angry tone. The change of tone and the content of the poem up until the end of stanza four show Owen's sarcasm when he refers to the reader as "my friend" which is obviously not the case. His reasons for this change of tone are unknown but it does give the effect of addressing the reader on a more personal level and driving home the event the poem deals with. Owen uses the very last lines to drive home the bitter feelings and irony felt towards the war. A rough translation from Latin is "..it is sweet and fitting to die for ones country." And through the sickening event Owen retells, he fulfils his purpose of shattering this "old lie" and replacing it with the more truthful images of modern war - an unjust, undignified and bitter slaughter of millions. ...read more.

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This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

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