Futility of War Illustrated in Wilfred Owen's Poems

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Wilfred Owen was a 19th century war poet who’s purpose was to inform the general public of the horrific realities of war that corrupt and influence innocent young men. Owen, having experienced war and the effect it has on humanity, explores and develops powerful ideas such as loss, which subsequently deals with the loss of life, youth and innocence. He also focuses on the overall idea of the negativity of war and its effect on society. Physical, psychological and emotional suffering is also dealt with in his poems. The poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ Deals with these ideas and reflects both on the ideas and characteristics of Owen’s poetry as a whole.

The idea of loss and its sub sequential ideas of the loss of youth, innocence and life used in ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ provide a grounding establishment in relation to Owen’s poetry as a whole. In the poem, the soldiers are described as desperate men. The alliteration; “knock-kneed” and simile; “coughing like hags” and “like old beggars” create the effect that the men have prematurely aged well past their youth, experiencing physical and psychological exhaustion, therefore creating a sense of loss of youth and well-being. This strongly relates to the poem ‘Disabled’, and the lines “There was an artist silly for his face, For it was younger than his youth, last year. Now, he is old; his back will never brace;” which contrasts past and present and expresses the loss of youth. Owen also creates powerful visual imagery of his deceased comrade who was helplessly slaughtered “under a green sea” of gas, which expresses Owen’s anger and hatred towards the war and its futility. The similes “like a devils sick of sin;” and “Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile,” express the corpse’s tragic appearance, with “the white eyes writhing in his face” and his “froth corrupted lungs”, and create the hyperbolic tragedy of the deceased soldier. The repetition of the word ‘you’ in the final stanza emphasises this loss as Owen is...
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