How Does Owen Present the Suffering of Soldiers Effectively in Dulce Et Decorum Est

Topics: Suffering, Dulce et Decorum Est, Pain Pages: 5 (1722 words) Published: May 10, 2010
How Does Owen present the suffering of soldiers effectively in Dulce Et Decorum Est

All of Wilfred Owen’s poems constitute a theme; the horrors of war. In Dulce et Decorum est, Owen uses imagery, language and verse form to present the death and suffering of the soldiers. He uses these techniques in other poems, too, to create an effective, conspicuous theme.

In, Dulce et Decorum est, Owen, straight away, uses imagery to convey his feelings about the soldiers. He describes the soldiers as if they’re “like old beggars under sacks” and “coughing like hags.” The implication of the exhaustion creates the image that the soldiers look like ill tramps; they no longer look like robust, young men because the endurance of suffering has changed them health wise and in appearance. This is different from the poem, Arms and the Boy, because the soldiers do not change in their health or looks, but in their innocence. Owen informs his audience that “there lurk no claws behind his fingers supple,” which suggests that the soldier is not harmful and would never kill anyone if the choice was his. Unfortunately, the choice is not his and he has to kill and fight; some of his innocence is lost forever.

A significant amount of tribulations and sufferings are listed in, Dulce et Decorum est, which creates a slow, heavy rhythm. Owen informs his audience that the soldiers “all went lame; all blind; drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots.” This tired rhythm mirrors the soldiers and what they are feeling. Owen does this so that we can comprehend more effectively what the soldiers are going through just by saying the poem out loud. The suffering is also emphasised because of how the sentence structure is formed. By listing the soldier’s injuries and poor wellbeing, the effect is almost overwhelming because the audience has little time to take in all of the pain that the soldiers have to endure. This is different to the description of suffering in, Arms and the Boy, because Owen creates a calm tone, rather than a violent one. He does this by using the same verse form throughout the poem and uses a casual tone to convey his thoughts on war.

In Dulce et Decorum est, we know that Owen’s fellow soldiers have to live through this languishing life, but it is easy to forget that Owen himself suffers in a way that the others might not. Wilfred Owen had suffered from shell-shock in the war and a symptom of this is that he cannot escape from some “helpless” dreams; he talks about one dream he had where the dying man “plunges” at him “guttering, choking, drowning.” The diction creates a violent image of a demented man who looks as if he is possessed just because of the frantic pain. Rather than thinking of himself as lucky that he was not the agonised man, Owen detests the fact that he was there, watching it, and has to live with it. A similar description is used in, Anthem for Doomed Youth, but instead of the soldiers suffering, personification is used when the weapons are described as “demented” and “wailing” as if they are the ones being tortured and not the soldiers.

The representation of death in, Dulce et Decorum est, fits in well with the futility of war theme that Owen is trying to convey. Insignificance is implied through language when the soldiers “flung” the wretched man “behind the wagon.” The effect of this nugatory attitude illustrates to the audience that the death and suffering of the soldiers is forlorn and futile. A different attitude is implied in, Anthem for Doomed Youth. This is because it has much more of a holy theme throughout the poem, relating to a conventional and respectful funeral in contrast to the reality of dying a painful death. The representation of death in, Anthem for Doomed Youth constitutes a theme of disrespect and a mockery of religion.

Towards the end of, Dulce et Decorum est, Owen talks about eyes, referring to them as “writhing in his face.” This creates a sense of incapability to withstand this...
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