We are going to assess how Owen challenges the notion it is sweet and noble to die for ones country based on the widespread viewpoint that Owens poetry provides an accurate and realistic portrayal of the conditions of war, and therefore, we will be looking to see how Owen portrays death (& injury) in war, and whether his descriptions & accounts of it indicates it to be sweet and noble, or whether Owens descriptions indicate something contrary.
The first poem we are going to examine is Dulce Et Decorum Est. In this poem, we find that Owen makes a direct and forceful challenge to the notion that it is sweet and noble to die for ones country.
The opening stanza is characterised by language about 'fatigue': the soldiers 'marched asleep', they 'trudge', and 'limped on' Owen also compares them to ‘old beggars’, which shows us that they are close to death and ‘drunk with fatigue’. To emphasize the awful effects of war, Owen uses rather pitiful language such as: 'deaf', 'lame' and 'blind'. Also, by the use of similes such as ‘coughing like hags’, and phrases like ‘blood shod’, he shows how physically miserable the soldiers are. Owen pities the state into which the soldiers have fallen, and describes them as ‘bent double’, ‘knock-kneed, coughing like hags’, instead of as strong fighters and youthful men. These men are described in the most inglorious manner, as war has broken them, physically and mentally.
The next part of the poem is the description of a gas attack witnessed by Wilfred Owen. He describes how there is an ‘ecstasy of fumbling’ as men try and put on their gas masks in time, but in this particular...