2016 paper Q3 - Describe at least one important technique used in the written text. Explain how the technique created an emotional response in you. Note: Techniques could include figures of speech, syntax, word-choice, style, symbolism, structure, or narrative point-of-view.
War is not a noble venture, it is a futile waste of young lives. Wilfred Owen explores this theme in his anti-war poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ through the important techniques similes, personal pronouns and word choice. These important techniques created the emotional responses of sadness and anger in me.
Society in 1917 when this poem was written was very pro-war. Propaganda was pushed onto every citizen, and not many questioned it, not even Owen at first. He enlisted in the British army believing it to be a noble, courageous thing to do, but found out the truth the hard way. His personal experience fighting on the front lines gave him the insight needed to write about the raw, real truth of war. His poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ uses the important technique of similes to describe the harshness of war. The line “coughing like hags” shows the degraded state of the soldiers. The stereotypically fit, young, healthy men have been reduced to old, witch-like women during the war. This shows the idea that war is a futile waste of young lives because the strongest, most capable men were diminished to haggard women. This created the emotional response of sadness in me as the young men had so much hope, but the war made them shells of the people they once were.
Throughout the final stanza, Owen specifically addresses the reader. He does this by speaking to “you” directly, he is forcing the reader to pay close attention to the issue he is speaking about and invites them to form their own opinion. It is thought he is talking to the people ‘back home’ in England at the time of it’s writing, he aimed to shock them out of their illusions that war is a noble venture. Part of Owen’s purpose was social criticism and by questioning the way war was advertised, he did this. Alternatively, he could be addressing American poet Jesse Pope. Pope also wrote about war, but instead of fighting to let the public hear the grim reality of war, her work was extremely patriotic and riddled with propaganda. Most famously in her poem ‘Who’s for the Game?’ in which she uses an extended metaphor to compare war to a football match. Owen was outraged by this and had to let people hear the truth. This highlighted the idea that war is not a noble venture as he fought to let people hear the horrible reality thousands had to live through. Sadness was the emotional response I had to this. It saddened me that war was advertised as a noble endeavour, when in reality, it was nothing more than a sad, worthless waste of valuable lives.
Negatively connotated words were a favourite of Owen’s when writing about war. They were throughout most of his poems, and in ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ they were used to describe battlefield death. The verb “flung” in the line “you too could pace behind the wagon we flung him in” has brutal connotations. Owen used it to show how there is no dignity for a fallen soldier, only a place in a wagon to be flung it. He is thrown as if he were not human, but a piece of rubbish to be discarded with. Battlefield deaths are depicted as glorious things, helping their country to win a raging war, but Owen shows the dark reality, that there is no mourning for the dead. Owen’s use of the important technique word choice created the emotional response of anger in me. It made me angry that the soldiers’ lives were worth nothing, that they, and their lives were thrown away for a fight they did not start, that their humanity was stripped from them in pursuit of a courageous deed. This showed the idea that war is nothing more than a futile waste of young lives because all the dignity and humanity was taken from the young soldier, his whole life was ahead of him, and he became nothing more than another number in the death toll.
The emotional responses of sadness and anger were created in me through Wilfred Owen’s use of the important techniques of smilies, personal pronouns and word choice. These important techniques showed the idea that war is not a noble venture, it is a futile waste of young lives.