Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Task: How does Wilfred Owen use word choice and poetic techniques in “Dulce et Decorum Est” to encourage the reader to empathise with the soldiers involved in ‘The First World War?’

Wilfred Owen was perhaps the most famous war poet of all time. Although a middle class academic he became a soldier fighting in the First World War. He was enlisted in 1915 and was commission to the Manchester Regiment. He ended up in hospital for several weeks suffering from shellshock and it was during this time that he wrote some of his best poems. He returned to the front line and not long after this he was killed. One of his best poems, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ focuses on a gas attack as the soldiers were returning to camp. In this essay I will show how Owen uses word choice and poetic techniques to create sympathy for the soldiers fighting in World War One.

In the first stanza it begins to describe the physical condition of soldiers on the front line. Words have been carefully selected to make the reader think specifically about the conditions that the soldiers and working in and their health. “Bent double line old beggars under sacks.” This phrase gives clear indication that the soldiers and over worked, exhausted and working in terrible conditions. The line that follows closely after is “Knock-kneed coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge.” This carries on the pervious description of the soldier’s physical well being.

In the second stanza direct speech is introduced in the first line making the reader feel connected to the poem and wanting to know what is going on. The stanza is opened with “An ecstasy of fumbling.” This gives the idea of an intense situation which is a matter of life or death. Fumbling around for the gas mask that could save his life or kill him if he didn’t. This wording makes you mind create the worst possible scenario as the situation is so intense.

In the third stanza it is leading on from the second which was written to tell the...
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