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Compare and Contrast Owen’s ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and Brooke’s ‘the Soldier’

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Introduction

Mohammed Tahir Y11 31 March 2001 COMPARE AND CONTRAST OWEN'S 'DULCE ET DECORUM EST' AND BROOKE'S 'THE SOLDIER' The poems 'Dulce et decorum est' and 'The Soldier' by Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke respectively, render images of war that have rather contrasting effects. Brooke foresees his death yet is contempt, while Owen describes others and is frustrated and angered at what he beholds, attacking the lies of the widespread propaganda. Owen's portrayal of war comes as a jolt to the average bystander, predominantly comprised of the armchair patriots to whom he mainly concentrates on awakening. He initiates the recount of the trial of courage and heart of the soldiers, with their description as 'old beggars' 'coughing like hags', trudging through the 'sludge', walking 'asleep' with an 'ecstasy of fumbling'. The unnerving description of the sufferings endured in the war and the disjointed rhythm to the poem further captivates our attention, and causes us to be charged with a sense of pity to their inevitable sense of fatalism. ...read more.

Middle

It hammers down the message to the propaganda-filled minds that saturate the land, and those patriots who blissfully watch the events around them that there could be no bigger lie then 'dulce et decorum est pro patria mori'. Owen struggles to deter and repel more from signing their own death warrants; he attempts to awaken the engrossed that step from a mist of sham and pretence into a mist of murder and savagery. 'The Soldier' on the other hand projects images of a heavenly depot for Brooke himself. He conveys and discusses what is good about war and the English culture. His jingoistic attitude leads him to believe that in the 'corner of a foreign field', there will be a dust 'whom England bore, shaped, made aware' which is 'richer dust' than the dust in which it is 'concealed'. It is a 'superior' dust, supporting his idea of imperialism, only because it was bred and nurtured with English values, 'breathing English air, | washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is greatly different to 'Dulce et decorum est' where there is a ragged rhythm. This being unnatural seems to break the ideas 'The Soldier' presents. Owen attacks the patriotism and colonial context others convey. Brooke deploys them to achieve his goal of producing an image of happiness and optimism from a fairly obvious predicament where people are bitterly melancholic. He attempts to illustrate the pleasure of heaven; Owen illustrates the torture of hell. Owen's use of imagery and diction frightens the reader. His use of metaphors and similes to describe soldiers 'all blind | drunk with fatigue' 'drowning in the gas, and the use of onomatopoeia such as 'gargling' horrifies us and puts our own lives into perspective. The use of sibilance and harsh sounding words dismays us. We think; can suffering and pain reach such a threshold? Such graphic and horrendous renderings and depictions; life cannot be much worse. Being chained in rows with a hanging face 'brother' to that of a devil's sick of sin'. Why are these doomed youth forced to fight in earth's begotten hell. ...read more.

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