Wilfred Owen criticizes war using imagery and poetic techniques to convey his feeling towards war and to try to show how young men are sacrificed, slaughtered, dehumanised and ignored for their bravery. His poems are about the suffering and horrors young men face on the battlefield, they are left scarred and demented by the sounds, horrors and fear of death. They are forced to watch their friends die in front of them and they lose their minds, not knowing when or how they could suddenly die. ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’
* What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
* What candles ma be held to speed them all?
Owen uses rhetorical questions to quiz the readers into understanding the ferociousness and barbaric ways of war. He uses these lines to describe the horrors that befell the young men in the wars. The first line, suggests the horror of young men being slaughtered like cattle by machine gun fire. WWI the English sent their soldiers in lines to try and overwhelm the enemy, but were stopped by machine gun fire. Dehumanising humans as cattle for the slaughter. Line 9 suggests that people mourn for their loved ones from the young men's hometowns, family, friends and community.
(Lines 2 and 7)
* 'Monstrous anger of the guns'
* 'demented choirs of wailing shells'
Personifying the guns as monstrous and raging as they tear through young soldiers like butter, and the shells as demented choirs of wraiths and death. Owen uses sound visual language to influence the readers with thoughts and sounds of the horrific warzone that young men faced without guidance or readiness.
(Lines 2, 3, 5, 6, 10)
* No, Nor, Not
Using negative connotations to stress the fact that it is hopeless in the face of war, there is very little chance of survival when one is sent out into the battlefield. 'Only' is used to state that on the battlefield the soldiers being slaughtered will not get any sympathy or prayers of safe haven into heaven, this is a mockery to the Christian belief of funeral rites and mourning. Whilst 'No', 'nor' and 'not' are used to cut off any positive points from war, because unless you survive there aren't any girls, honour or parade to show you home.
'Anthem for Doomed Youth' is a very horrific poem about young soldiers sent to war in WWI, where they were slaughtered by machine guns and artillery as they were charging to overwhelm the enemy in the trenches. The negative connotations deeply emphasis that there can be no good out of war as it is a pointless and wasteful thing, the young soldiers have no idea what they get themselves into and are slaughtered mercilessly. Rhetorical questions ask the readers to consider the fact that war is a gruesome and horrifying scene to experience, and to ask why young soldiers had to die before they became adults, was it worth sacrificing thousands of young men aged between 16-19. Personification expresses the anger of guns and cannons, showing their bone-shaking force and ability to murder hundreds of innocent boys. The shells are wailing like wraiths coming to take their souls and destroy their existence from the world.
Dulce et Decorum Est: (It is sweet and honourable to die for one's country)
(Lines 1, 2, 12, 14, 20, 22 and 23)
* (1) Like old beggars under sacks
* (2) Coughing like hags
* (12)Floundering like a man in fire or lime
* (14) As under a green sea
* (20) Like a devil's sick of sin
* (22) Obscene as cancer
* (23) Bitter as the curd
Owen uses similes to describe the soldiers as they head from the battle front to head quarters, they are tired, sleepless, injured and coughing from the smells of guns and corpses. They are attacked by gas and they fumble for their masks, but one unlucky soldier doesn't make it and inhales the green, toxic fumes of the gas. His fellow soldiers are helpless as they watch...