Wilfred Owen

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Wilfred Owen

By | November 2012
Page 1 of 3
Wilfred Owen’s poetry, shaped by an intense focus on extraordinary human experiences, compels us to look more closely at the nature of war. Wilfred Owen, having experienced WW1, skilfully conveys to us the nature of war and the horrific experiences and circumstances which come hand in hand with WW1 in particular. Owen’s intense focus on these experiences compels its readers to understand and empathise with both the men at war and the people back at the home front. The horrific conditions and extraordinary experiences in which the men had to endure were unimaginable to any human who has not experienced it firsthand. We grasp a sense of the war participant’s vile experiences and physical demands through his extensive use of vivid imagery in Dulce et Decorum Est. “An ecstasy of fumbling”, “clumsy… stumbling…floundering”, Owen uses these powerful adverbs to highlight the frantic and stressful situation which arises as a result of a gas attack, an extraordinary experience to any normal being. These adverbs encourage the reader to read at a faster pace, generating a connection to the urgency of the situation. “Gas! GAS! Quick boys” generates a strong sense of immediacy and a fast pace to the stanza. The gas attack gives the reader a clear insight into the treacherous experiences surrounding these men. We empathise with the gas attack victim and its witnesses as a result of the metaphor “us under a green sea, I saw him drowning”. This shows us how the gas engulfs the men and causes great struggle. “Guttering, choking, drowning”, the description of the dying, suffering man is written in a dispassionate manner suggesting that this became a part of everyday life in the war. We learn that war, particularly through Wilfred Owen’s eyes, is dehumanising and immoral. “Bent double, like old beggars” opens this text in a negative tone. “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags” reinforces the poor state of the men; these similes compare these once bright young men to “old hags” and...