Depiction of the Tragedies of War in Dulce Et Decorum Est

December 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori was a very common war phrase used during World War One. Soldiers would recite this phrase right before going into war to remind themselves that “It is sweet and right to die for one’s country.” This seemed like a great phrase until people found out what war was really like, and Wilfred Owen helped them do just that. His poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est,” told of the brutality of war, and ironically ended with the phrase, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” His poem is the tragic story of a soldier who watched one of his fellow soldiers die right in front of him by gas poisoning. Wilfred Owen’s poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est” is a great poem because of his immaculate use of imagery, figurative language, and structure. His poem successfully expresses the tragedy of war to readers of all ages through his figurative language.

Figurative language is one of the most prominent and important literary devices used in this poem. Owen begins his poem by using a simile conveyed through imagery. The simile, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” compares the soldiers in the platoon to hags. He uses this simile to set the scene by painting a picture in the reader’s head of hags doubled over under the weight of their sacks. Owen doesn’t just use a simile to compare soldiers to hags, but he also describes the hags as “bent double.” Soon after this comparison, Owen describes the soldiers again by stating, “Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of disappointed shells that dropped behind.” This line contains a hyperbole and personification. The shells are “disappointed” because they fell behind the soldiers and did not hit them directly. Although gun shells are inanimate objects, Owen’s use of personification enriches his writing. He also says the soldiers were “drunk with fatigue”. This phrase is a hyperbole that exaggerates the motions of the soldiers in the poem. Many people associate the word “drunk” with negative connotations simply because drunk people in society are almost always portrayed as having very little balance and a lack of common sense. Although his comparison might not be too far from the truth, we as readers know that the soldiers didn’t really get drunk because of their lack of sleep. Another use of figurative language in this poem is onomatopoeia in the line “Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs”. “Gargling” is an example of onomatopoeia because the word itself suggests the noise it makes. By putting “gargling” in that line, Owen connects to the readers because he is including their auditory senses. Good poetry, like Wilfred Owens’, will include almost all senses.

Structure is another important feature in strong poetry. Wilfred’s poem is broken down into two stanzas. His first stanza is comprised of 14 lines and gives the reader details of the setting. This first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem while the second stanza describes the central idea the poem is based around: war is tragic. In Owen’s last stanza, he personally addresses the reader and tries to show them exactly how bad war is. To accomplish this, he uses iambic pentameter throughout. His iambic pentameter is almost always followed by a rhyme, but Owen does break this pattern very briefly at the end. He breaks the iambic pentameter to finish his poem with the line “Pro patria mori.” When authors break the pattern of five pairs of syllables, it typically puts an emphasis on that line. Owen put a heavy emphasis on the last line to make sure his stance on war is clearly evident. Overall, his poem follows the same rhyme scheme throughout: ababcdcd and etc. This rhyme scheme typically gives readers a sing-song feel to the poem; however, Owen’s poem, if read correctly, doesn’t sound that sing-song. This is because he expertly uses a combination of punctuation and the ends of lines. Readers are supposed to very briefly pause at the end of a line, and have a major pause after all periods, semicolons, and colons. By using structure to his advantage, Owen was able to create a great, well-rounded poem.

Wilfred Owen effectively connects to his readers by using an abundance of figurative language. His skilful use of similes and imagery helps readers paint a picture in their mind. Owen’s imagery connects to all senses of his readers because of his strong and colorful use of words. His word choice helps readers connect with this poem on a deeper level. Owen also structured his poem so that the overall meaning is very clear. He used iambic pentameter with an ababcdcd rhyme scheme throughout to keep the readers interested by pleasing the ear. Overall, “Dulce et decorum est” is a great poem that conveys the tragedies of war by effectively using imagery, figurative language, and structure. After reading this poem, readers are reminded and now fully understand of the old lie: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

Read more