"Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

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                             “Dulce Et Decorum Est”                 by Wilfred Owen

“Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen, is a poem used to involve the reader into a powerful impression of the First World War.  Owen does this effectively using descriptive language, word choice and imagery. Owen describes his experience when his group of exhausted young soldiers return from a battle to be surprised by a gas attack. Using these techniques, Owen portrays – in a negative light – his feelings of the war and subjects the reader to a gruesome awakening of this era, exposing his title as an ironic lie.

        In the opening lines of the poem, Owen sets the scene as the soldiers return from the exhausting battlefield. Using similes, he reveals the men as run-down:

         “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,”

                                                                               (Line 1)

Owen portrays the soldiers as unhealthy animals as he dehumanises them by referring to them as “beggars” and “hags”. Although once belonging to the most disciplined and clean-cut of armies, “beggars” suggests the men are now desperate and tatty, “coughing like hags” is further used to highlight their unhealthiness and reveal their once young and fit bodies as old and tired.

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As a gas attack surprises the exhausted soldiers, Owen creates a dramatic scene in which the men push themselves to the limit to fix their helmets. Using highly dramatic punctuation and word choice, Owen exposes the shock and urgency the soldiers experience:

“GAS! GAS! Quick boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling”

                               (Line 9)

        In one short line three exclamation marks and capital letters in “GAS!” are used to emphasize the utmost fear and panic the soldiers are facing. The hyphen after these ...

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