"Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen - creitical review

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Daniel Stern – English – War Poems

“Dulce et Decorum Est” was written by Wilfred Owen during the First World War . Owen explains the problems and difficulties the soldiers had to face each day. The poet describes vividly yet honestly, what trench warfare was like. The poem begins with Owen explaining the feelings of the soldiers whilst they march towards the enemy. The soldiers are scared and frightened due to the lack of hope as they do not know when the terrible war will end. The dreadful conditions have a major impact on the young men and as a result, they look frail and elderly. Furthermore, diseases and general unhappiness were common among the fighters. This was because of the lack of food, adequate shelter and sanitation. However, they most importantly wanted to see their families again. The soldiers were advancing forward when the captain, Wilfred Owen, ordered the soldiers to run from  “green sea” which is approaching them and put on their gas masks. All the soldiers instantly have to put on their gas masks, which causes a sudden rush of “fumbling/stumbling” and, unfortunately, “drowning.” The third stanza, which is only two lines, emphasises the significant impact this incident had on the poet .The stanza conveys a powerful image in which the man dies, as he was too late in putting on his gas mask. In the final stanza, Owen is angry with the generals and politicians for encouraging young men to fight for their country. Moreover, the poet explains what happened to the man that died from the gas attack and consequently uses this incident to convince readers that it is not “sweet and fitting” to fight for one’s country. The gas attack, which is illustrated in stanza two, paints a strong image in the reader’s head of the complete chaos as the young men rush to put on their individual gas masks:

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“Gas! GAS! Quick boys!”

In this quotation, the writer uses shorter syllables to emphasise the emphatic and abrupt command. The shorter syllable sequence of words also creates suspense and therefore attracts the reader’s attention even more closely to this incident.

 Lamentably, one soldier is late on putting on his helmet and consequently dies.

In the final stanza, Owen makes the reader aware that if the politicians and generals saw the destruction and death caused by war then they would “not tell with such high zest” about the glories which are a part of fighting for one’s country. Dulce ...

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