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Dulce Decorum Est

By nik29 Nov 30, 2013 788 Words


Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce Decorum Est” is a bleak poem designed to shock the reader by using provocative and interesting word choices to condemn and contradict the government and its supporter’s war propaganda. Particularly the quote “obscene as cancer” includes and interesting word choice. The impact of the word “obscene” is the reader thinks of something completely repulsive and disgusting. This would imply that Wilfred Owen finds cancer disgusting and derogatory. Owen is comparing the effects of cancer to the horror of war. This could show that he thinks that being in the trenches not knowing whether you will live or die is worse than knowing you will die of cancer. Linking in again with the governments war propaganda, maybe Wilfred Owen also wanted to comment on the propaganda of war which to remind the population that the glory of war is a widespread and fallacious lie and war destroys the lives of young people, and war is not “the game, the biggest that’s played”. This could also be a provocative comment on Jessie Pope’ s “Who’s for the game.” Indeed, generally, Jessie Pope’s “Who’s for the Game” is a contradiction to Wilfred Owens “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. For example, Dulce Decorum Est has a sematic field of ill health. In comparison, Who’s for the Game has a very jolly and light hearted view on war. The main reason why this is is because Jessie Pope, in comparison to Wilfred Owen has not experienced the brutality of war. Isaac Rosenberg also writes a poem that totally contradicts the government’s image of war it is portraying to the public. The poem also contradicts Jessie Popes image of war in her poem who’s for the game. An example from Isaac Rosenberg’s poem that contradicts Jessie Pope’s jolly and light-hearted view on war is "A man's brains splattered on a stretcher-bearers face.” Especially the word splattered has a special effect on the reader. This word is especially striking because it brings to mind a horrid and vile picture of death and destruction. Rosenberg uses spectacular imagery like in this throughout his poem “Dead Mans Dump”. The general picture that Rosenberg tries to get across to the reader is that of the bodies just lying around all over the ground, carnage exists everywhere, and war is not as carefree and ebullient (cheerful) as Jessie Pope tries to get across in her poem. Isaac Rosenberg’s ideas and perception of war also mirror those of Wilfred Owen. Both have experienced the reality of war unlike Jessie Pope, who consequently writes from a completely different point of view.

The ending of Dulce Et Decorum Est is very significant as the use of “the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori”, at the end of the poem gives the poem a repeating structure, highlighting the brutality of war. Furthermore, the use of the well-known Latin phrase demonstrates that since ancient civilizations conflict has not changed in the essence that human beings still fight and die for their country. In addition, the use of the capital ‘L’ in “old Lie” emphasizes the irony in the saying and Owen’s hatred for it. It is also interesting to translate the Latein into English. Translate “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” into English and you will get “it is pleasant to die for your country”. This is also and oxymoron. In the wider context of the text, this is a very interesting way to end the poem as the reader feels a sense of bitterness and sadness as

Dulce et decorum est was the first poem to show a realistic perspective of war, this is due to the poet; Wilfred Owen having first-hand experience with what war is like. Owen portrays war in a very negative view, for example through blood-curdling references: e.g. the reference to “hags” when talking about young soldiers, indicating that the war has transformed these soldiers into brutal and evil individuals through the harsh squalid conditions in the trenches. Owen also describes the death of a soldier through a gas attack, this is conveyed by: “he plunges at me, guttering, chocking, drowning “, the description of this death brings an onset of emotion in the reader through emotive language such as the rule of three being used. This death can also be interpreted in as a way of expressing the ‘dehumanization’ of the soldiers, “I saw him drowning”, conveying that the brutality of the war has washed away human emotion as the “green sea” has drowned the life of the young soldier. Both interpretations are negated and oppose nationalism, unlike in Jessie Pope’s poem “Who’s for the game”.

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