2007 “Distinctive ideas are at the heart of all poetry”. In your view, what is a distinctive view explored in Wilfred Owen’s poetry? Explain how this idea is developed in at least two poems you have studied.
Wilfred Owen exposed the distinctive theme of unnecessary suffering of young men at war through his poems ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ and ‘Mental cases’, from his first-hand experience. He utilizes structure, rhyme and figurative language to convey the traumatic sights and sounds of the battlefield and to evoke moral outrage at the dehumanizing act of war. Wilfred Owen conveys the “Old lie” through the title of his poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. It translates to mean it is “sweet and honorable to die for one’s country”. This ironic contrast incorporates sarcasm to further establish the distinctive idea that war was certainly more horrific and destructive rather than courageous. He manages to challenge the perception that war is a glorious place to be through the use of visual representations to portray the mental and physical effects of the soldiers going through the punishment of war. The harshness of the simile “Bent double like old beggars” emphasizes the soldiers’ pure state of exhaustion. In addition the evocative language “An ecstasy of fumbling” communicates the urgent need for the salvation of ones life. The soldiers are now beyond exhaustion, reinforced by the use of emotive verbs such as “Stumbling” and “Limped”. Some have lost their lives; others have lost their sanity.
The poet uses short sharp sentences, exclamation marks and capital letters to effectively change the exhausted tone to a more urgent pace as the attack quickly begins “Gas! GAS! Quick boys!” This transformation back into “Boys” portrays the soldiers’ response to the attack as fast panic-panic stricken, in contrast with the “Old Beggars” in the first stanza. Owen incorporates the use of vivid visual imagery to recreate the nightmarish scene for those unaware back at home. The...
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