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"Dulce Et Decorum Est" - a general overview

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Introduction

At the top of the second stanza of "Dulce Et Decorum Est" the first two words are: "Gas! GAS!" Wilfred Owen did not write those words simply for the visual impact on the page. His purpose seems to be wanting to tell us that maybe the first cry was the instant, almost lazy reaction to something he had seen a hundred times before, but that second cry was one that was a real warning. It doesn't seem as if these two words were to be read in the same way. The "quick, boys!" contrasts with the slowness of action that the verbs create in the second stanza i.e. "fumbling", "stumbling", "flound'ring" and "drowning". A great example of using punctuation for texture is the ellipses in line 12, which shows us that this image trails off, and that fragment of extension gives a sense of the rhythm and the mood of the narrator at that point in time. The use of alliteration in "knock-kneed" seems to emphasise the jitteriness of the soldiers and the way they were feeling "drunk with fatigue". The powerful strength of Owen's feelings is shown in clear blocks of thoughts within this poem. "Peace" by Robert Brookes is unusual in the sense that it is a sonnet and yet, is split into two stanzas. This may be because in the first stanza, Brookes is writing about the world that had "grown old and...weary" whereas in the second stanza, he writes about the men at the Front who "have found release" from the world and are doing something to achieve that elusive goal of peace. ...read more.

Middle

verse; he accomplishes his message very quickly in the poem, and makes us, the audience feel like we are actually experiencing what the narrator is going through. In the final stanza, Owen personalises the poem to the readers at that time as he repeatedly emphasises that "you" to would not be in high spirits if they had experienced the truth of what those soldiers went through. He seems to want to end the glorification of the war through the endless propaganda that was going on at that particular point in time. Indeed the very first stanza takes away the glory of the war as the once proud and dignified soldiers are now merely "bent double, like old beggars under sacks". This is a very powerful image as it is wholly unexpected because the title of the poem indicates that it may be a patriotic poem but instead it is the total opposite. Brookes' poem has a contrasting message to Owen's poem. "Peace" is more of a patriotic poem and can be said to have reflected the atmosphere of Britain at the beginning of the war when morale was high. He writes about the glory of war and how they, the soldiers, have "found release there" fighting for their country's "honour". The push in Nationalism at that time made him believe that "the sick hearts that honour could not move" would resent not enlisting as they would not have the honour of fighting for their country and would be branded cowards as it may be also seen that they had no love for their country. ...read more.

Conclusion

Owen and Brookes, although their opinions on the war differed, were writing as soldiers whereas Hooley was writing from a mother's perspective. The fear and anguish of the possibility of losing her son is apparent in "A War Film". Brookes writes in a more patriotic way whereas Owen's poem is more hard-hitting and evocative; his poem becomes more emotive as it carries on. The three poems are from different time periods of the war. "Peace" was written towards the beginning of the war, "A War Film" was written somewhere in the middle of the war and "Dulce Et Decorum Est" was written during the war from a soldier's long-term experience of it. This could help us show the changing attitudes to the war and it is true that after the First World War, there was a flood of literature depicting the sheer horror of the war - H.G Wells described it as "the war to end all wars". Brooks' poem was typical of those at the beginning of the war: patriotic and full of encouragement to enlist to fight in the war. Hooley's poem reflects the changing attitudes to war whereas Owen's poem can be seen to have been influenced by Siegfried Sassoon (who he had met at Craiglockhart War Hospital). Owen's poem is a subtle protest poem and seems to reflect the true nature of what it was like to fight in the war and watch your fellow soldiers get killed. The personal reaction of each poet is shown in these poems and seems to indicate the different attitudes to the war. SHAMIMA SHALLY 13ZB ...read more.

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