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How does Wilfred Owen portray the horrors of war through his use of language in Dulce et Decorum Est?

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Introduction

How does Wilfred Owen portray the horrors of war through his use of language in Dulce et Decorum Est? Dulce et Decorum Est, a poem by Wilfred Owen, explores the many horrors and cruel ordeals of World War One. Through his use of linguistic techniques, vivid imagery and dramatic descriptions, Owen seeks to convince the reader that it is far from honourable to die for ones country, as the title of the poem in fact suggests. He does so successfully, presenting his opinion through a series of images designed to obliterate the misconception that war is admirable, as well as differentiating and varying his techniques throughout the poem. In the first stanza, Owen describes the state of the soldiers to allow the reader to visualise the cruel reality that war was for them. Their situation is made more realistic through the use of first person plural as displayed in the line "we cursed through the sludge". ...read more.

Middle

Gas! Quick, boys!" Owen also accentuates the dream like nature of the situation, using language such as "an ecstasy of fumbling" and stark and direct dialogue such as, simply, "I saw him drowning". Vivid visual imagery is also created in the poem through Owens' use of similes, "floundering like a man in fire or lime". All in all, the second stanza both manages to speed up the pace of the poem and hold the reader's attention through Owens' clever input of an event, which in this case takes the form of a gas-attack. The third stanza of the poem differs greatly from the first two, due to the fact that it is written in the present tense, opposed to the past. Its brief two lines describe the everlasting effect of war on the poet, forever permeating his dreams and forcing him to relive the nightmare that war is, although he is no longer part of the action. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem ends with an ironic statement, similar to the first stanza, and Wilfred Owen sends his final message to the public using the lines "The Old Lie: Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria Mori" (it is sweet and seemly to die for one's country). Through his great use of description and imagery, Wilfred Owen manages to not only successfully portray the horrors of war, but persuade the reader that is in fact the idea of patriotism and honour that is the cause of such circumstances. Through the vivacity of Owen's language, the reader sees that the horror of war in fact far overrides the patriotic clich�s of those who embellished it at the time. His use of graphic detail reveals war as the unsightly thing it is, and therefore convinces the reader that the old Latin proverb, Dulce et Decorum Est, is indeed nothing more than a lie. ?? ?? ?? ?? Cosima Olivi ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is an excellent essay, and one that consistently focuses on Owen's language in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum est'. The language analysis is extensive and in-depth, and shows a good attention to how the poet uses language in order ...

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Response to the question

This is an excellent essay, and one that consistently focuses on Owen's language in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum est'. The language analysis is extensive and in-depth, and shows a good attention to how the poet uses language in order to ensure the poem is received in a certain way. There are light touches upon the rhythm and structure, which show the examiner that, were the question to ask for a more general analysis, the candidate would be capable of producing excellent analysis of structure and rhythm as well. There is a good understanding of the audience effect of certain linguistic devices like similes, sibilance, and onomatopoeia, which helps the candidate demonstrate a range of linguistic analysis and this will impress the examiner to know that not all efforts are dissipated on one or two specific effects.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is fantastic, and shows a candidate who possesses skills up to A/A* level for GCSE. There is a proficient ability to analyse language shown, with plenty of attention given to specific adjectives but also to nouns, verbs and longer phrases. The analysis is very broad and consistent, and is very well-expressed with precise, clear comments about Owen's use of language. I also commend the contextual appreciation towards the end of the essay, as it is critical to understanding the effect of the poem to understand the mindset of Owen at the time. Overall a very strong essay.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) raises no causes for concern. The candidate addresses a number of specific terminologies in the poem, all of which are spelt and applied correctly. There is excellent control of spelling, grammar and punctuation and there is no reason to deduct points from the QWC mark here.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 29/08/2012

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