The Way Dulce et Decorum Est Represents Soldier's Voice
The poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen is about a soldier’s experience during World War I. Owen enlisted in the Army and served during WW1, which is when he wrote the poem. “Dulce et Decorum est” was conveyed by a narrator taking part in WWI. Owen used the voice of a soldier to make the poem more natural to the reader. The poem is like a story told by a soldier who experienced everything he described making the poem seem reliable. Through the poem, Owen revealed the emotions of a solider during WW1 which leaves his audience feeling the terror of what the solider experienced during the war and makes readers question their image of war. In the poem, the speaker describes the events around him as the gas explosions take place and death seems to be coming near. “Dulce et Decorum Est” sends an anti-war message to those that did not take the battle seriously or did not know what was going on. Owen brings this poem to life using comparisons, imagery, and allusions that all support the themes of patriotism and suffering that soldiers experience during WWI.
In “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Owen applies comparisons in his poem to convey his overwhelming theme of the reality of war. The soldiers during the war are compared through similes as “old beggars” and the gassed soldier to “a man in fire” and his body to a “devil’s sick of sin”. The utilization of similies supports the poem’s theme of suffering as readers can understand how bad the trench’s conditions were.
Moreover, the descriptions help prove that even though our soldiers leave home strong and hopeful, they become weak, poor, and even dead. Additionally, Owen’s use of metaphor which described the dying soldier trying to speak “through the misty panes and thick green light, /As under a green sea,” helps to highlight the helplessness the group of soldiers felt as their comrade died because they were unable to communicate with each other. The poem’s comparisons gave an easier understanding of the severity and horror the soldiers at war went through. By similes and metaphors in his poem, Owen can convince those passionate about the war that war is horrifying.
Furthermore, Owen’s elaborate imagery makes readers feel as if they are in a war scene. By employing imagery, the author contributes to his idea that war can become very scary. By having phrases such as, “we cursed through sludge,” “Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots,” and “watch the white eyes writhing in his face,” readers can understand the terror that comes with being a soldier in a brutal war. It quickly becomes clear to the reader why the soldier is caught in this theme of suffering as Owen describes the effect of his fallen comrades’ bodies with vivid detail: “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood/ Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, / Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud/ Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,”. The toxic gas destroyed every part of the soldier’s body slowly and painfully. The speaker lets the audience know early that “All went lame; all went blind;”. The soldier quickly understands that no one ever escapes the horror of war, even after one physically leaves the battlefield; the memories stay. The imagery in the poem brought to life the actions and effects of warfare on the soldiers fighting for their country. Going through the trenches, making it through clouds of chemical gasses, and the sight and sound of death became real.
Along with the dark images of the war, Owen also offers significant allusions to enhance the nightmare “Dulce et Decorum Est.” The audience is given an allusion to zombies and the walking dead as “Men marched asleep…blood-shod…Drunk with fatigue;”. To make more emphasis on the darkness and horror that is through-out the poem, the speaker compares a dead soldiers’ face to that “like a devil’s sick of sin;”. “Coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge” alludes the soldiers to witches. The allusion creates an image of the narrator, and his fellow soldiers deformed, hunched and unnatural. Readers are presented with the fact that war transforms men into decrepit beings. The effect created by this image is one of horror and shock at the thought of war being so physically and mentally altering. Such horrific imagery leads to the reader understanding that war is a place that changes people, not for the better but for, the worse.
In conclusion, “Dulce et Decorum est” by Wilfred Owen demonstrate to readers the truth about the war; there is nothing but horror, brutal and deathly and that it is glorious to die for the country is an old lie. It paints a picture that it was indeed a horrible thing to endure. In Latin, the phrase “Dulce et decorum est pro partria mori” means, “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.” Owen calls Horace’s famous quote a lie that diminishes war’s reality by using vivid comparison, imagery, and allusions. By telling a story in the poem, the author leaves readers feeling sickened at what war is capable of. This poem is highly effective as an anti-war poem, making war seem horrid and revolting, just as the author wanted it to. Through his use of comparisons, imagery, and allusions, Owen is able all support the themes of patriotism and suffering that are experienced throughout this literary piece of work.