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"Dulce et Decorum est", by Wilfred Owen.

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Introduction

The First World War was an event that brought to many people, pain, sorrow and bitterness. Accounts of the war shows that no other war challenged existing conventions, morals and ideals in the same way as did World War. Many people touched by the terrror of the war have written pieces of literature about the massacre that was World War 1, wishing people to understand the horror and tragedy that befell those involved. "Dulce et Decorum est", by Wilfred Owen, is one such elegy that presents to the reader a vivid, horrifying description of World War 1, aiming to illustrate that war is not romantic and heroic, but a senseless and devastating event. In this poem, techniques such as imagery, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia and contrast are used to express Owen's angry and bitter view towards what happened in the war. "Dulce et Decorum Est" uses strong images to convey Owen's feelings about the war, and to force the reader to take his view. Ghastly pictures of the war occur throughout the poem, largely in the last stanza, working together to present a vivid picture of the war. ...read more.

Middle

In the description "his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin" Owen compares the gas victim's face to the devil seeming corrupted and baneful. A metaphor even more effective is one that compares "...vile, incurable sores..." with the memories of the troops. It not only tells the reader how the troops will never forget the experience, but also how they are frightening tales, ones that will the troops will never be able to tell without remembering the extremely painful experience. These comparisons illustrate the point so vividly that they increase the effectiveness of the poem. The most important means of developing the effectiveness of the poem is the graphic imagery. They evoke such emotions so as to cause people to become sick. The tone of the whole poem is sinister and gloomy, like a ghost story. This casts a solemn and eerie atmosphere to the poem, achieving a serious effect. The atmosphere and mood of the poem is important to the effect the poem has on the reader, as it tells the reader what to feel while they are reading the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

This same effect is also caused by the rhyming that is evident throughout the poem, such as the words "boots, hoots", "blind, behind", "fumbling, stumbling", "time, lime", "in, sin" and "face and pace". The repetition of certain words also stresses the importance of particular images within the poem. The word "drowning" is repeated twice to imprint on the reader's mind the effect the gas had on the soldier. The language used also helps to give a stronger impact on the reader by involving the use of one of the reader's five senses. In "Dulce et decorum est", onomatopoeia is used to enhance the effect of the poem, by involving the reader's sense of hearing. Words such as "guttering", "gargling" and "choking" are used to emphasise the horrific sounds of a man dying from gas, as the sounds of the words can be likened to what they are describing. The reader's attention does not wander throughout the poem because of Owen's consistent imagery. By the end of the poem, the reader can fully appreciate the irony between the truth of what happens in the trenches and the Lie being told at home. It is this attention to form and imagery that makes the poem effective. ...read more.

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