Examining Poems By Wilfred Owen English Literature Essay

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The alarming reality of the use of gas as a weapon of war contributed to the deteriorating of the soldier’s state of mind. This issue is present in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen. Owen describes a scene of a gas attack “as under a green sea I saw him drowning”. This simile explores the image of a solider falling to his death in a horrific way just like drowning in a ‘green sea’. This quote further demonstrates a personal experience as Owen can attest to the truth and horror of it, and the part that tortures him the most is that he is unable to assist as he just “saw him”. Repetition and punctuation emphasises the issue. Quick Boys!” is the physical focus of the poem, and the repetition marks the immediacy of the tone to enable the audience to understand and engage more into the reality of the soldier’s situation. Owen also refers the soldiers as “boys”, and this reminds the audience of the soldiers age and the dangerous and unpredictable circumstances the ‘boys’ find themselves in.

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It is a distressing image in an attempt to awaken the public’s awareness of the reality of war. Owen uses imagery to emphasise this issue. “Obscene as cancer bitter as the cud/of vile, incurable as sores on innocent tongues.” All this imagery is hideous and physically sickening as Owen wanted to provoke a response from his audience. It is astounding writing, but it is also accurate as it suggests disease but ironically the solider is beyond that – he is dying anyway. This quote is also suggestive of war for itself being a disease, supported by the sustained use of similes. This issue help Owen’s audience to visualise the disturbing and panic-stricken events the soldiers had endure without being emotionally attached otherwise their state of minds would disintegrate. Consequently the ideas raised by Owen allow the audience to ponder and reflect on the ineffectiveness of war resulting in human psychological post-war effects experienced at war. Therefore it is through the use of vivid imagery that one is able to see the futility of war and how the “old lie” is represented in Owen’s poetry. The soldier being deceived by shameless men in charge is evident in “Anthem for Doomed Youth”.

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The fact that the iambic pentameter of line three is violated by both the dactyl of “Only the” and the trochee of “stutter-,” along with the aforementioned extra syllable that ends the line, means that the line literally stutters, imitating the irregular staccato of rifle fire up and down the trenches. The use of these aural imagery as well as onomatopoeia allows the reader to understand the effects of war and further oppose the idea of patriotism to war. These images that the audience illustrate mentally express a kind of scornful disdain for the instruments of death, however, the scene as a whole is one of chaos and horror in which the poet finds only the absence of dignity and comfort, an absence underscored by the repetition of the words “no” and “nor” in lines five and six. Wilfred Owen successfully draws responders into the world of poetry by employing poetic techniques to create an appealing yet shocking image of war as a sadistic, unstoppable, untameable and unnaturally vindictive mechanical monster that kills without thought or reason for personal gain. This image presented throughout Owen’s anthology to attack all those who glorified and romanticised war. Owen’s pacifist sentiments echo through his poetry, however his anger at the woman, politicians and propagandists of his time is clearly evident in the profound imagery and the detailing of horrific deaths on the battlefields.

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