Critical Paper “Dulce Et Decorum Est”

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Critical Paper #1 “Dulce et Decorum Est”
Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est is a forlorn poem of his experience in the First World War. Owen recounts his story as he and fellow infantrymen march ‘knock-kneed, coughing like hags’ across the wasteland that is the battle front(line 2). Most of the focus is on the exhaustion from battle, but changes attention when ‘hoots’ of gas-shells rain down on their position. Weariness quickly turns to ‘An ecstasy of fumbling’ (line 9) as the soldiers fit their gas masks, but one soldier is not fast enough. Owen then relates his first hand tale and demise of the footman chocking to death from mustard gas. The reader is forced to witness this horrid death and ask ourselves; ‘Dulce et descorum est,/Pro patria mori’ (line 27-28). Lines 1-8 are used to describe a scene of war-torn men on a forced march across a wasteland. Such phrases as, ‘old beggars’, and ‘coughing like hags’ gives the reader an idea of what condition that the infantrymen are in. Such phrases denote a negative image as to associate the infantrymen as vagrants in poor physical condition. With those who ‘lost their boots’ now find themselves ‘blood-shod,’ rather than being bare foot. The word shod is an old English term for shoeing a horse, again negative connotation of the infantrymen as sub-human beings. Lines 5 and 7 give depth to the state of despondency that general infantrymen are in. Owen chooses the phrase ‘Drunk with fatigue’ to show the depth of exhaustion the infantrymen are experiencing. To be drunk, as to be intoxicated with the absolute exhaustion; denoting fatigue as some drug that overwhelms the senses and coordination. They do not give credence to the reality they are in until a gas shell sends them into an ‘ecstasy of fumbling’ for a gas mask. ‘Ecstasy’ is used not to give the connotation of delight and happiness, but rather the stark contrast of frenzy. Lines 9 and 11 end with ‘fumbling’ and ‘stumbling’, respectively, to give depth the...
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