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"Dulce Et Decorum Est"

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Introduction

"Dulce Et Decorum Est" In the poem, 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen, the happenings of the World War One era are reflected through the poet's use of vivid imagery and poetic techniques. The poem addresses the falsehood that war is glorious, that it is noble. Instead, it describes the true horror and waste that is war, with the aim of changing the way in which society thinks about conflict. The poem epitomises the futility and pointlessness of war. Not only is war a shocking waste of life, but it is ultimately barbarous and pointless act as World War I so horrendously demonstrated to the world. The graphic horror of war is presented through a series of images which are designed to demolish the notion of war being a patriotic and meaningful adventure. The first stanza sets the scene for us as it describes the conditions the men fought in, and their feelings. The emotionally drained, exhausted men are making their way to the trenches, looking for some form of rest. ...read more.

Middle

He does this by changing the tone by using upbeat words and also by using short phrases. The use of upper case lettering on the repeated word "GAS" emphasises this tonal change to emphasise panic. The men discover the gas and then it is almost as if the realisation only hits them a second later. They then shout the word a second time as they have woken from their "drunken fatigue" to warn each other and then they have to put their gas masks on immediately. The men fumble as the helmets are clumsy and heavy and the men are in a panic. One unfortunate soldier did not manage to put his helmet on in time and so the gas begins to kill him. Owen describes the horror as he watches the desperation of the dying man. The following simile creates an image of the man struggling to move or to stay upright and compares the gas to fire or lime, "And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...." Owen is disturbed as he sees him drowning in the deadly gas. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is this attention to form and imagery that makes the poem effective. As Owen witnesses the number of innocent men dying out there, he realizes how the cruelty of the war and suffering can distort the face of the victim: "And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;" The word 'writhing' gives a vivid image of pain and discomfort as we get the horrible image of the man's face twisting violently and the 'white eyes' also create an image of horror and violence. Earlier in this stanza, the words 'smothering' and 'flung' also add to the image of violence and hostility. 'Flung' also suggests a lack of care as well as aggression in the action. Wilfred Owen's extremely powerful poem, 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' thoroughly criticises the ideology of war being 'a sweet and glorious way to die, fighting for one's country'. The combination of vivid imagery and poetic devices work to evoke a horrible anti-war feeling in the reader and encourage them to act and cease the on-going violence in the world. With powerful imagery and simple language, Owen effectively explores the theme of war. ...read more.

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