Comparison of Jessie Pope's "Whos for the Game?" and Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et decorum est".

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Robyn Ashton

Jessie Pope and Wilfred Owen

Jessie Pope’s treatment of the subject of war strikingly contrasts to the anti-war poet Wilfred Owen. Pope’s poetry appears to take a carefree approach, however, is in fact very brutal when compared to Owen’s.

In Jessie Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game?’ there is extensive use of rhetorical questions to persuade and pressure British men to enlist. For instance, she writes, ‘Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?’ Pope is addressing all young men and is therefore challenging their masculinity; anyone who does not join will be perceived as a coward. Pope also utilises a litotic phrase, ‘It won’t be a picnic…’ deliberately for rhetorical effect. War effort is much more than a ‘picnic’ but by understating the First World War she is convincing the nation that extreme difficulties did not lie ahead.

For much of the poem, Jessie Pope uses the simple rhyming scheme ABAB and unlike Owen’s sophisticated and complex way of writing, the lines read like a chant and so would be easy to relate to a younger audience that she is aiming at. Consequently, her poem is jingoistic and much easier to remember than Wilfred Owen’s. Owen’s poem was aimed at individuals high in society who had the power to make a difference which is why it was written in Latin. The Latin phrase can also be changed and rearranged to make sense and mean exactly same like war itself. War can be changed but it will always be futile.

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Furthermore, Pope also uses a less than formal tone with colloquialisms such as ‘lads’ in an endeavour to appeal to her audience. This also makes her sound friendlier and not aggressive.

Pope employs conceit throughout the entire poem, ‘Who’s for the Game?’ and governs her poetic message through doing so. Pope invites the reader into a more sophisticated and supposed awareness by comparing, juxtaposing war and manipulating images that reader already has of ‘the game.’ Comparing war to a ‘game’ is shocking to a present day audience who knows the truth of war and that it is nothing like a ...

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