Depiction Of The Horror Of World War I In Dulce Et Decorum Est By Wilfred Owen
“War is sweet to those who haven't experienced it.” This is a famous Lation war proverb which applies to every country. As it says, sometimes war is easily consumed by people without considering having trauma after war. Dulce et Decorum est written by Wilfred Owen is a powerful anti-war poem which aims to reveal to people what really happens to soldiers during and after the war. Since he died from shell shock, this poem was published in 1920 which was after his death in 1918. Based on his experience towards World War I, he grabbed a pen to convey that dying for the country shouldn't be treated as an honorable thing but rather as a horrible, trumatric thing. The author states this powerful message through literary devices such as simile, imagery, metaphors and diction. Moreover, after his poem published, Owen definitely brought significant changes to society and people. Wilfred Owen conveys the horror of World War I through literary devices and even makes the reader feel the war. The author chose one of the soldiers as a first-person speaker to describe the speaker’s feelings towards war. This first person speaker brings the reader close to the poem and delivers a powerful message to the reader. In the first stanza, the author used similes such as “like old beggars,” and “like bags” to depict exhausted face of soldiers. The soldiers are compared to miserable, weak old man who can barely walk. They drunk with fatigue so that they “deaf” even the gas shell dropped behind. These word choices make the scene sound particularly horrific and leaves us a strong sense of the soldiers’ emotions. In the second stanza, Owen describes the experience of the gas attack itself by using a metaphor: The soldiers are fitting on their “clumsy helmets” with “an ecstasy of fumbling”. This usage of metaphor conveys the incredible terror and desperation of the men as the gas surrounds them. In the third stanza, the author chose a list of violent words like “guttering, choking, drowning” to depict the death of the soldier in the speaker’s nightmares. Each word in the list adds on the horror of what’s happening, and the fact that the speaker is described as ‘helpless’ only makes it worse. In this context, we knew that the speaker no longer has a normal dream and his dream changed to nightmare after the war. In the last stanza, the speaker depicts about the soldier’s appearance through vivid image. The speaker watched “whie eyes writhing in his face”, ”froth-corrupted lungs” and “incurable sores on innocent tongues” when they flung him in the wagon. This dramatic, realistic depiction catches the reader’s attention and makes them see the image as if they watched him like the other soldiers. As a poet and soldier, Wilfred Owen is highly valued in terms of the most memorable poems of the First World War. However, In fact, the outbreak of war initially less affect to Owen. This is seen the letter he sent to his mother. 'I can do no service to anybody by agitating for news or making dole over the slaughter.' But his attitude changed later and this is noticed June 1915 in the letter. In the letter, he 'intensely' wanted to 'fight'. In 1915, he returned to England in order to join the army. After spending the year training in England, he left for the western front early in January 1917. By January 6, 1917 he wrote of the marching, “The awful state of the roads, and the enormous weight carried was too much for scores of men.” Outfitted in hip-length rubber waders, on January 8, he had waded through two and a half miles of trenches with “a mean depth of two feet of water.” On January 12 occurred the march and attack of poison gas he later reported in “Dulce et Decorum Est.” They marched three miles over a shelled road and three more along a flooded trench, where those who got stuck in the heavy mud had to leave their waders, as well as some clothing and equipment, and move ahead on bleeding and freezing feet. Since Owen experienced gas shell while he fighting in war, his depiction of poison-gas attack horribly described in the poem. Moreover, during World War 1, he was diagnosed with shellshock. He was evacuated to England and moved to Craiglockhart War Hospital. In there, Owen started to translate his violent experience, specifically the experiences torturing him for whole life. War and its effects are shown in “Dulce et Decorum est” and left trumatic impression. Dulce et Decorum Est Pro patria mori is a Latin phrase used at the end of the poem which means 'It is sweet and honourable to die for your country’. ‘This title is a reference to one of Horace’s Odes's poems. Horace was a Roman philosopher and poet living from 65BC to 8BC. Horace’s Odes teaches about how dying in battle is a brave and honourable act. Owen uses this irony as he believes this is the opposite of the truth like he said in the poem 'old lie', detailing the real, appalling reality of war. Moreover, 'Dulce et Decorum est' was a phrase used by recruiting posters and other forms of war propaganda which attempted to persuade young men to ‘join up’ and go to war. When war first broke out thousands of men volunteered but the slaughter of soldiers on a massive scale meant that new men were constantly needed. To persuade young men to sign up as soldiers war has to be appearing glorified and romanticised in books, posters, films and poetry. Such propaganda promised adventure, excitement and glory to those who volunteered to fight. But the reality of life on the front line turned out to be very different. Since the British government needed millions of volunteers and, until conscription was introduced in 1916, young men were under incredible social pressure from the government, the local community and their friends and families to enlist the army. Newspapers printed dozens of poems which were designed to persuade young men to sign up. For example, Harold Begbie, Matilda Betham-Edwards and Jessie Pope were the poets who wrote crude war verses aimed at those who had not yet signed up to fight. In their poem, the war itself was described as a game and an adventure; exciting and glamorous. Wilfred Owen particularly detested Jessie Pope who composed verses for the Daily Mail. Compared to Owen who witnessed the cruel war, Pope was a civilian with no experience of conflict who supported the war from the safety of the Home Front. For him, Pope was the 'Pied Piper' who lures innocent, harmless youth. As he called her in the poem 'my friend'. Owen dedicates ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ to her. And he desperately asks her to stop telling old lie to young men. In conclusion, Wilfred Owen strongly claims that war is not sweet and right to die for the country, He persuaded his perspective about the war through horrible and dramatic literary expression used in the poem. Owen also described the war scenes realistically based on his experience during World war. Furthermore, he chose the ironic title 'Dulce et Decorum est' as a warning to poets and government who deceive young boys with grand words. Owen wants the citizen to awake from sweet lie and face up to reality with people who are living in a state of perpetual fear.