Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum Est

The poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen illustrates a very disturbing view of humanity through the use of a variety of different poetic techniques which are effective in describing the horrors of war. Owen successfully describes how war effects soldiers both physically and mentally and ends with a bit of criticism of those who told young men that it was “sweet and fitting to die for their country”.

In the first stanza, through his use of word choice and imagery, Owen describes the awful effects that war has had on the soldiers. The word choice of “sludge” and “trudge” help us to understand the weariness of the soldiers and the slow, sluggish atmosphere of the poem at this point. These words also have negative connotations and suggest that the mud was thick and hard to walk through and this helps us to imagine the terrible conditions that the soldiers had lived in. Furthermore, these words could also describe the mood of the soldiers at the time as wretched and help us to understand how much of a struggle it was to even walk to their “distant rest”. The idea of life as a struggle is continued later in the stanza by a metaphor that demonstrates the physical effect that the war had on the soldiers: “drunk with fatigue”. This tells the reader that the men were finding it difficult to walk because they were so utterly exhausted. The image that is evoked is of how a person would look if he/she had consumed too much alcohol but this is not the intended meaning of the author in this particular context. The intended meaning is that the man are so tired that they barely have control over their bodies, just as person who was drunk would, and therefore they cannot walk properly. Exhaustion has taken over their bodies completely. The idea of exhaustion runs throughout the poem, as the personification in, “Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines” shows. Five-Nines were the type of bomb which was used repeatedly during the First World War. The...
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