Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen
Critical Essay
By Rebecca Smith
Word Count: 766

In the poem, Dulce et Decorum est, the poet, Wilfred Owen, tells us of a gas attack in the trenches during World War One. Owen not only effectively uses poetic techniques to describe the horrors of the gas attack for those who suffered and witnessed the event, but also informs us that it is a lie to say that war was a glorious and honourable way to die.

In Verse 1 of the poem, Owen starts by using a simile to describe the soldiers. He makes a point of the soldiers not looking how we would typically envisage them. The quote “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” shows us that instead of being straight-backed and dressed in clean proper uniforms, the uniforms were too big for them and were very worn out, making them look like they were wearing sacks as clothing. It also shows the soldiers had bad posture due to the heavy equipment they had to carry and hard work they had to do, making them “drunk with fatigue”… The way Owen used this metaphor is very effective as it gives us the image of men staggering around and falling over because they were so tired, like a drunkard would. In the quote “deaf even to the hoots” Owen uses the onomatopoeia “hoot” effectively to describe the sound of the gas shells being fired. It gives us the idea of the shells being fired hunting out the men like birds would do to their prey, this is could also be seen as a metaphor.

The quote “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!” uses exclamation marks, which makes it sound as if it was a short and sharp command. This helps pick up the pace of the poem which also adds more to the tension. There were many verbs which Owen used to describe the soldier who could not get his gas mask on in time, such as; “fumbling”, “yelling”, “floundering” and “drowning”. By using words ending in “ing” it makes it sound as if what is happening is happening right there and then in the present. The poet uses a...
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