Describe at least one important technique used in the text. Explain how the technique/s shapes
This poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen is a thought provoking poem which gives us the experiences of soldiers in trenches in WW1. The author uses various types of language techniques to create an emotional response in the reader about how horrible war is. He uses imagery and first-person pronoun to illustrate that war is not romantic and heroic but is a senseless and devastating event.
The reader is introduced to the horror of war in the first lines of the poem as Owen depicts the poor physical condition of the men, “bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. The soldiers are compared to broken-down, weak old men who can barely walk. This simile demonstrates how dirty and unhealthy the soldiers appear. This idea of soldiers is very different to the image suggested by the poem’s patriotic title and by the war propaganda of the time. ‘Dulce et decorum est…’ which means ‘It is noble and right to die for your country’. The contrast shows me that the soldiers were tricked by the lie which shows soldiers’ naive personality. ‘bent double’ lets me imagine the tired soldiers kneeling down. The comparison to ‘old beggars’ is interesting because it highlights how the men have been aged prematurely by their experiences. The contrast here is startling as soldiers are usually seen to be young and energetic. It implies that the experience that they go through is beyond imagination. This horrible reality of war is very different to what one of the most famous propaganda of the time, ‘Who’s for the game’ by Jesse Pope says. The poem encourages young men to join the war by giving false expectations. It describes war as fun, honourable and something we should join in. Owen reminds me that there is no honor in war but only death and hardships, which connects to the last line, “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.” It makes me feel pity and sad for the soldiers as there is nothing more sad than wasting our whole life chasing a thing that never existed. This makes us think about times where we have joined something or have done something in hopes to be happier but in the end, disappointment or sadness greets us instead. Owen teaches us that we should differentiate what everyone is spoon fed to believe is right, and what is actually right. We as readers understand the idea that the expectation of something or an event will always differ from the reality.
The horrific consequences of gas attacks are made painfully clear as Owen conveys the suffering of an individual soldier who failed to get his gas mask on in time, “flound’ring like a man in fire or lime”. The man in poisonous gas is compared to a man in fire or lime. The technique makes me shocked at the fact that soldiers go through all kinds of troubles and hardships. The simile helps me imagine a soldier running around with panic and without control. This expresses the soldier’s pain and suffering to me, reminding me of the personal face of war through the torment of an individual man. This simile is very powerful as it highlights the extent of his distress. The use of ‘fire or lime’ compounds his torture as both are very vivid comparisons that allow me a glimpse of the agony that he is experiencing. The technique reinforces the idea of how painful war is. This has a certain relevance to the wider world. We
question the toil and torment ordinary men and women must endure, even today, to
defend their country from acts of terrorism and violence. Is protecting your country worth
The pain of war is further emphasised at stanza 3 as Owen, former soldier who fought in WW1, tells us his personal experience. “In all my dreams before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” The use of first person pronouns show the reader that the writer himself witnessed the war. It engages me more into the text and increases credibility of the text. “In all my dreams” imply that the writer is still suffering from the experience of the war which highlights how unforgettably shocking it was. “He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” Here Owen uses rhyme as well as emotive and active adjectives, which gives me the impression that I am witnessing death. Yelling, distressed soldier becomes too lifelike. I begin to realise that the war veterans of today, tricked by the propaganda and lies, witnessed fellow soldiers and brothers die in similar terrible way. I understand why some of the war heroes prefer to be alone and isolated. It is because they have witnessed horrors that many of us would not comprehend. This also reinforces the idea that there is no glory in death, regardless of what the propaganda told by government says.
In conclusion, the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen is a deeply poignant poem that uses a variety of powerful techniques to express a very powerful message. Through his use of simile, metaphor and first person pronoun, Owen skillfully delivers the idea of death and suffering. Owen seeks to shed light on these horrors and in doing so highlights the tragedy of innocent men who are misled into sacrificing their lives for their country.