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Examine how typical in both style and treatment of subject matter these writings are of literature from or about The First World War.

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Introduction

Examine how typical in both style and treatment of subject matter these writings are of literature from or about The First World War The poem 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' was written by Wilfred Owen and published during the war, shortly before he was killed in action. The poem itself is bitter and ironic, giving the message that war is unglamorous, and to think that it is something to rejoice in is to disregard those who have died in service. The title means 'Sweet and fitting it is', derived from the phrase 'Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori', meaning it is sweet and fitting to die for your country. However, Owen finishes his poem by saying that the phrase is a lie and only used to deceive young children desperate for glory. This gives a shock to the reader, as it turns the title of the poem into an ironic statement, mocking almost. 'Peace' by Rupert Brookes sends an entirely different message than Owen's poem in that it projects war in a glamorous and almost religious light, as something that should be rejoiced in and participated in while we still have our youth. 'Now God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour, and caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping' the opening of the poem is reminiscent of a prayer. ...read more.

Middle

The second stanza is a celebration of how the war will end, either through one side winning, or through the soldiers own death. Death is portrayed as a soldiers friend as well as enemy, because nobody truly wants to die, however in death the 'laughing heart finds its long peace' with nothing to shake it. The second stanza of 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' is an account of a gas raid given by Owen in the present tense to at a sense of reality to the situation so that the reader can empathise with Owen. The account is disturbing in that the description of a man dying is vivid in its simplicity, and the use of the word ecstasy slows down the pace and prolongs the effect of the images. The third stanza is composed of two lines only, but it is still separated from the rest of the poem, perhaps to symbolise the loneliness of a soldier who has survived an attack, but lost all his friends. Owen also reveals that he dreams of the ordeal, so his experience is never truly over and keeps haunting him even when he is relatively safe. In the final stanza, Owen invites the reader to share in his experience, of watching a man die a most painful and unnecessarily prolonged death, describing every physical aspect that he observes. ...read more.

Conclusion

One aspect that both writers share is their gender. Being male, they tend not to concentrate on the way the war affects the women in their poetry, and instead they assert their expectations and experiences of the war. In the case of Brookes, we can see that he is clearly excited at the prospect of going to war, his hopes high and full of expectations of war being a colourful alternative to everyday life, rather akin to a young boy at the prospect of a holiday or adventure. Owen on the other hand takes up the role of the cynic, who has lived through the fighting and finds it difficult and disturbing to recount his experiences to us. His poem 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' is a form of rebuke towards those who take the idea war in vain, and dishonour the dead by glamorising the loss of life. To conclude, my opinion of both pieces of poetry is that I am able to empathise with each writer in turn, the emotions of the prospect of a war and the excitement of change, the experiences from fighting tirelessly and losing friends to an onslaught of death. I feel that both poems are typical of their time, but convey messages that people can truly identify with. Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori? Certainly. If you have not fought, that is. Emile Khan ...read more.

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