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Discuss how Owen portrays the horrors of war in Dulce et Deocrum Est

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Discuss how Owen portrays the horrors of war in "Dulce et Deocrum Est" WWI, an event that occurred from 1914 to 1918 was a horrific and shocking incident which shook the world. Wilfred Owen, a soldier of WWI, wrote the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" which portrayed the terrors, misery and misfortune of war. Firstly, Owen portrays war as terrifying, gruesome and horrific through his descriptive use of similes. This is evident when the narrator depicts the tragic suffering of a soldier in the line "And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime". During WWI gas bombs were invented and used as a very effective and efficient way of killing large numbers of the enemy. This quotation shows that the soldier is "flound'ring" because he is in so much pain and is trying to get away from the gas but he cannot because he is already too late and the gas is inescapable without a gas mask on. This simile suggests that the gas is so corrosive and poisonous that it would burn your skin. ...read more.


Furthermore the soldier might have heard and seen the gas bomb but he might have lost his gas mask and could not find them or the soldier was probably injured and was not able to put on his gas mask and there was no one there to help him. This simile portrays a strong image of the horrors of war and unnerves the reader. Furthermore, to portray the horrors of war, Owen uses Pace. There is contrast between the pace in verse one and verse two. In the first verse, words like "trudge", "distant" and "limped on" suggest that the march back to base was painfully slow. The words "trudge " and "limped on" describe the soldiers to be walking at such a slow pace either because they were heading towards a battlefield or that they had just returned from a battle and were exhausted and fatigued. In addition to this a lot of them were injured which suggests why they were limping. ...read more.


These comparisons depict the horrors of war so vividly that they increase the effectiveness of the poem. Another technique which is used by Owen to portray the horrors of the war is by using repetition. The words, "Gas! Gas!" is a use of repetition to emphasise the importance of the words and to make it clear what is happening and that they needed to pay attention. This quote also suggests that the repentance of "Gas!" is to show that the soldiers need to get ready for what was coming next. Also the repetition of "we" suggests that the narrator is describing a particular group in which he may have been involved with and the repetition of "like ......" tells us that the narrator uses a lot of similes to portray particular scenes and compare them to something else. In conclusion I think Owen has used effective language techniques such as similes and metaphors to portray the horrors of the war. And also other techniques like Pace which shows the unpredictability of war that anything horrific can happen. Abdullah Bin Madawi 10DET ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a response to a question asking how Wilfred Owen portrays the horrors of war in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum est'. This candidate consistently focuses throughout their answer in a variety of poetic techniques and devices used by ...

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Response to the question

This is a response to a question asking how Wilfred Owen portrays the horrors of war in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum est'. This candidate consistently focuses throughout their answer in a variety of poetic techniques and devices used by Owen in order to instil the horrors of War. I would perhaps like to see more of an analysis of imagery and less of language (particularly the seeming focus on the second stanza) to shows a more varied approach to analysing the whole poem, rather than just a small snippet as that would demonstrate a more obviously holistic understanding and this is a requirement of this kind of analytical response.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown here is entirely indicative of a high B grade candidate. The analysis given shows a good level of insight into how Owen's use of language (simile/metaphor/personification (though the latter is not explicitly mentioned)) shapes the effect on the reader. I also like the field-specific terminology used such as "monosyllabic", though a few others have been omitted that shouldn't have been considering the quotes the candidate drew from the poem e.g. "watch his white eyes writhing" involves a technique called assonance - repetition of internal vowel sounds (in this example, the sound of the letter /i/). The effect here is that the internal rhyme implants the image deeper into the readers' heads. This level of analysis is what is required of A* candidates - there needs to be a very profound level of appreciation whereby the candidate comments on a lot about a little.
Furthermore, the use of imagery could be improved, as well as the religious connotations of the poem (this could factor in integrated contextual appreciation) - this means the candidate will have to consider Owen's religious stance at the time the poem was written. Owen did not believe a God could let something so destructive as War to happen and do nothing about it, so he mustn't exist. And this is why he references "like a devil's sick of sin". The strength of this imagery is extreme - the devil himself has become physically sickened by the mindless violence and directionless warfare before him that even he believes it a sin. As a result, the poem suggests Owen is familiar with Hell and the devil, having been to War, but has never felt close to God even as a religious man before he moved to France. This, again, is the level of analysis expected of an A* candidate. There must be an understanding of the poem, the context that influenced it's writing, and the attitudes and values of the poet when writing it.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fine. The are no glaring floutings of standard grammar, spelling and.or punctuation. The punctuation however, could be improved as could the variety of language. The only repetition of words that should feature in analytical writing is if it is for effect or if it is quoting directly from the question - they are both encouraged but the latter is encouraged especially as it shows an attention to the question at all times.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 10/03/2012

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