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A Reading of Owen's "dulce Et Decorum Est"

Essay by review  •  February 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  513 Words (3 Pages)  •  897 Views

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A Reading of Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est"

In the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est", Wilfred Owen uses powerful images to portray his anti-war attitude. He uses the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country, to emphasize that his descriptions are anything but sweet and fitting. Owen's poem gives a metaphorical soldier's account of the reality of war that sharply contrasts the ideas and images that army recruiters illustrate. Through the shocking imagery, and the seemingly real soldier's account, Owen makes his reader experience war. This poem is about teaching others the foolishness of war, and the unavoidable psychological and physical suffering it causes.

The narrator is a rhetorical soldier in an authentic sounding war situation. The use of this soldiers first hand account provides the reader with a feeling that he gives an accurate description of the experience. The first two stanzas describe the soldiers returning to their camp after a battle. The picture the narrator develops is not of proud, patriotic men, but rather men suffering from the horrors they have just lived through. The narrator must turn his back on the "haunting flares" to block out the pain and suffering he just witnessed. Some men limp their way home on "blood-shod" feet because their strong, protective boots have been lost. In the last line of the second stanza the word softly is used to describe lethal weapons. Owen's choice of words effectively displays the horror and pointlessness of war.

During the third stanza, the horrified soldier watches a fellow man suffocate to death because of a gas bomb. He points out that the picture is "dim through the misty panes and thick green light." The sight is almost like a dream, like he could not be witnessing something this horrific in real life. The narrator relays every gruesome detail to appall the reader. The wave of shocking emotion that this vision brings defiantly makes the reader share Owen's anti-war feelings.

The final stanza continues the reader's stunned emotions. The narrator vividly describes the soldier's dead body. The poor man was haphazardly thrown into the back of a wagon. As the more fortunate men march behind the wagon they are forced to stare at the grotesque face of their asphyxiated

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