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The portrayal of war in wilfred owens dulce et decorum est

His purpose—to protest against the mentality that perpetuates war—is unmistakable, but what sets the work apart from much other antiwar literature is the effectiveness of his tightly controlled depiction of war. The last twelve address the reader directly, explaining the significance or moral of the incident.

What does Wilfred Owen argue in the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est"?

The speaker is among a company of exhausted men who after a stint at the front are marching unsteadily toward the rear when they are suddenly overtaken by poison gas. After they hastily pull on their gas masks, the speaker sees through the misty lenses that one of them, somehow maskless, is staggering helplessly toward him. He watches the man succumb to the gas, desperately groping the air between them as he drops to the ground, like someone drowning.

How does Wilfred Owen portray the horror of war in

In a single couplet, the speaker declares that in all his dreams he sees that soldier plunging toward him. In the end, Owen removed the sarcastic dedication, perhaps to make clear that he wished to address a much broader readership.

Most people in England greeted the outbreak of war in August, 1914, with enthusiasm. Wars of recent memory were limited, distant affairs; the people expected adventure and heroism from a contained conflict that would be over by Christmas. In part because of the efficiency of machine guns and because tanks were not deployed until near the end of the war, neither side was able to dislodge the other. Millions of men lost their lives in costly and fruitless attempts to break the stalemate; in just one day, July 1, 1916, the great offensive at the River Somme took the lives of sixty thousand men.

  1. Forever after, the speaker replays the scene wishing that he could have helped the gasping man. Detectable only by its sting, it gave its victims only seconds to protect themselves and caused severe, often fatal, burns to exposed skin and lungs.
  2. After they hastily pull on their gas masks, the speaker sees through the misty lenses that one of them, somehow maskless, is staggering helplessly toward him. This was a war fought in the trenches filled with water, mud, rats, and bodies.
  3. Most people in England greeted the outbreak of war in August, 1914, with enthusiasm.
  4. He finished it about one year later, perhaps shortly before his death. After a year of convalescence, Owen returned to the front in August, 1918.

Rats, lice, and the sight of exposed corpses were inescapable conditions of trench warfare. By the time the war ended, all those who experienced the horrors of trench warfare were forced to abandon their belief in the superiority of European civilization and the idea of European progress.

How does Wilfred Owen portray the horror of war in Dulce et Decorum est Essay

The poet speaks for these individuals who, though they no longer function in tidy military unison, are joined by their shared experience of a nightmare that seems just at the point of being over when the new assault arrives. The deadly gases at first chlorine, later phosgene and mustard gas that remain a hallmark of World War I were first used on a large scale on the Western Front. Although soldiers were equipped with respirator masks, more than one million men died from such attacks.

The gas, whose effects Owen describes in the second stanza, is the odorless and colorless mustard gas frequently used after July, 1917.

Detectable only by its sting, it gave its victims only seconds to protect themselves and caused severe, often fatal, burns to exposed skin and lungs. Hence, his protest against war extends to become a protest against all inhumanity.

Owen drafted the poem in August, 1917, at the age of twenty-four, while he was convalescing at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. He finished it about one year later, perhaps shortly before his death.

Dulce et Decorum Est Summary

Owen was deeply concerned about the technical problems involved in the expression of his passionate convictions. The first stanza employs heavy, single-syllable rhymes throughout; to convey exhaustion, Owen breaks up the rhythm, which composes itself in the third line.

After several comparatively regular lines, a dramatic shift occurs with the fragmentary syntax of the first lines of the stanza about the gas. After a year of convalescence, Owen returned to the front in August, 1918. In October, he received the Military Cross, and on November 4, 1918, just one week before the Armistice, he was gunned down on the Sambre Canal.