The Underlying Truth about War
War—sometimes portrayed frivolously—may be more that the human expects it to be. It is filled with gruesome and intolerable scenes that may not even be appropriate to discuss. Wilson Owen, in transforming the mainstream ideas, branches out and discusses the horrific side of war that people would not expect. In “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “dulce et decorum est,” Wilson Owen strategically manipulates diction to illustrate the theme of the reality of war, and in doing this, sheds a light on the dreadful impact that war has.
Wilson utilizes strong connotations of words in both of his poems. In “Anthem for Doomed Youth” the title says a lot about its content. The title itself has significant use of assonance. The expression is intended to be drawn out, and set a depressing mood which parallels to the subject of war itself. The title also indicates that this is a national thing, everyone is a part of it: “Anthem”. The word signifies a national anthem, where everybody joins in and takes pride from it. The poem does not parallel that the soldiers took pride to fight in the war. The word anthem connotates a sacred song or song of praise; which alludes to church where anthems are sometimes heard, and where funerals take place. This then shows that the poem in itself is an anthem as well. Wilson then goes on to further question the “passing-bells for these who die as cattle” (1). The use of the word cattle suggests a mass amount or a collection of people in a group. It also implies that the men in the war were treated like cattle, basically dehumanizing them as people. “Dulce et decorum est” also has words with connotative meanings. The repetition of blood implies the dangers that are on the battlefield. Owen writes, “…blood shot” / “the blood came gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs” (6, 21-22). The blood paints a gruesome picture of life in the war. The first four words of the second stanza, “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys”’...
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