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Dulce Et Decorum Est and The Soldier: A comparison

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Dulce Et Decorum Est and The Soldier: A comparison It is quite possible that never have two poems offered such contrasting opinions on one subject as Dulce et Decorum Est and The Soldier. And the subject, war, is their only connection. Whether or not it is right to die for your country, both poets are vehement in their convictions. It is through the various facets of poetry writing that the authors show their opinions. This is what I shall explore in this essay: which poem more effectively lays down its author's stance on war. In both poems, use of language is paramount to their effectiveness. However, Dulce Et Decorum Est uses a particularly stylised form of tactile language. Where The Soldier is more reflective, Dulce Et Decorum Est is as graphic as it is bitter. Its vivid images stun the reader with one intense depiction after another: "He plunges at me, guttering, choking". This vivid imagery is reinforced by the poet's almost excessive use of onomatopoeia. This onomatopoeia is in keeping with the dark, bitter tone of the entire poem. ...read more.


Firstly, the entire description of England is a peaceful one, one of beauty. Words such as "flowers", "richer dust", and finally "English Heaven", all suggest England to be like some Earthly Elysium. Virtually all of the language in The Soldier is metaphorical and reflective. The most important metaphor is that of England as a mother. "England bore, shaped, made aware", is almost a direct attempt to make the reader feel contrite for even contemplating Owen's poem, let alone agreeing with it. Brooke's views on war are at the least romantic, if not bordering on the na�ve: "That there is some corner of a foreign field, that is forever England". More oft than not, a single soldier's death in war makes no difference, and 'some corner of a foreign field' is unlikely to be 'forever England'. That is to say that if a soldier dies on a foreign battlefield and they lose the battle, the patch of grass he dies on is still owned by the country he was in, and therefore he died in vain. ...read more.


Indeed, he believes that dying for your country is some kind of recompense: "Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given." Brooke's The Soldier is poetically and lyrically faultless, his language in the classic style, and in the typified sonnet form. It would seem like the poetic picture of perfection. Yet perhaps these are reasons for its ineffectuality. The rhythmic lyricism becomes almost monotonous, the classic style is outdated even for the time of writing, and some would consider the sonnet form, whilst an apt representation of the poet's love for his country, totally inappropriate for a subject as serious as war. In stark contrast, Dulce Et Decorum Est throws off all poetic constraints, and is a poem which is totally emotive, conjuring up vivid, morbid, bitter images in the mind of the reader. Although I cannot totally commit to the ideals of Dulce Et Decorum Est, I do agree that there is no glory in death on the battlefield, and that it is an undignified act, devoid of honour. The final, most poignant irony is that despite Brooke's desperation for an 'honourable' death in combat, he died of blood poisoning from an insect bite, never getting to see the war through Owen's eyes. Joel Cottrell December 2000 ...read more.

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Response to the question

It is a joy to read answers so wildly ambitious as this. This candidate really forms their own essay here, and doesn't appear to roll out any kind of clichéd form or structure. That isn't to say it doesn't make ...

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Response to the question

It is a joy to read answers so wildly ambitious as this. This candidate really forms their own essay here, and doesn't appear to roll out any kind of clichéd form or structure. That isn't to say it doesn't make sense, but it makes it more interesting to read because the ideas are presented in a fresh, emotive way. There is a realisation of the poems and their purposes, and although the analysis is far from exhaustive (concentrating mainly on language), it forms a cohesive arguments to carry the candidate's well-reasoned and justified conclusion.

The candidate's introductory paragraph nicely sets the tone and the basis for the analysis to follow, and clearly states the question they intend to answer. They do a very good job at answering it, and round of the essay beautifully by reconsidering the question after having considered the analysis. It feels very succinct and final, and this will earn them plenty of marks in the ability to construct a coherent essay.

Level of analysis

The Analysis is very good, though often leans towards the language used, and understandably so, as each poem fervently utilises the written word to profess their opinions about war. Everything written with regards to the language is nicely-formed and expressed clearly.

However, with regards to the rest of the analysis, I would've liked to have seen a bit more analysis focused on the structure (e.g. rhyme scheme, rhythm, stanza breaks), the titles, and the more subliminal themes (e.g. religion). The candidate could've written extensively about (in terms of rhyme scheme) the unpredictability of 'Dulce et Decorum est' and the intensity of the unbroken fourteen-lines of 'The Soldier' Furthermore, how does the narrative voice change in 'Dulce et Decorum est'? What does this tell us about the poets? Factoring in contextual appreciation here, the candidate could mention how Rupert Brooke never even set foot on a battleground, and so his narrative voice dissolves into spineless hypocrisy as he writes as if he were on the battlefield. Owen however, saw the real visuals of war, so might we trust his own zealous judgement of war? As well as this, the titles further highlight Brooke's hypocrisy, by suggesting the poem is didactic with the use of the definite article "The", all soldiers must act and behave as in the poem. The poem is more a glorification of being a soldier, rather than being a soldier at war. You could then argue that 'Dulce et Decorum est''s use of Latin suggests a more learned voice - someone who is arguably more trustworthy as a result of their education.

All this is important analysis that can be included, though as shown above, not all is required in order to obtain a high grade.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is flawless. The candidate has clearly taken a lot of time to ensure their written expression is of optimum clarity. No errors in the candidate's use of grammar, spelling or punctuation are present, and they utilise a number of poetry-specific lexis in order to analyse the poem. All this gives the examiner the suggestion that the candidate is a competent, confident writer.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 12/08/2012

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