Wilfred Owen

Topics: World War I, Poetry, World War II Pages: 3 (909 words) Published: February 26, 2011
Through Owen’s powerful portrayal of themes and ideas, as well as shifting rhythms, dramatic description, and rich, raw images, Owen seeks to convince us that the horror of war far outweighs the patriotic clichés of those who glamorise war, and evokes more from us than simple disgust and sympathy; but issues previously unconsidered are brought to our attention through the use of unusual perspectives and relationships. Throughout Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen highlights the dehumanisation of the soldiers, which shows an unusual perspective on the reality of war and its horrors. At the beginning of the first stanza, Owen uses a death-like calm, using alliteration and onomatopoeia joined with powerful figurative and literal images of war to produce a pitiful sense of despair, ‘bent double’ and ‘knock-kneed.’ Owen constantly refers to the overpowering exhaustion of the soldiers, describing them as ‘old hags’. This highlights that the soldiers are ageing prematurely, dehumanising their bodies, demonstrating that they are only used for their numbers, that they are mediocrity. Owen forces his readers to enter his horrific story of war terrors, and to take the journey with him by presenting his poem in three stages; before, during, and after the gas attack. Each stage has its own tone and pace, highlighting the pity, urgency, or utter destruction of gas attacks. The first stanza makes imminent that the soldiers are old and powerless people, trudging painfully back to safety. The tone and pace of this stage of the attack is slow and solemn, suitable to the pace of the soldiers. Owen uses vivid imagery such as ‘drunk with fatigue’ and ‘blood-shod’ allow the reader to feel the pity and agony of the young soldiers, as if they are in the battlefield with them, showing them in such a state of weakness that they are barely human. The second stage is written during the attack. The pace suddenly changes to one of urgency and terror, as the gas starts to surround the soldiers. The...
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