How does the poet effectively create a sense of horror and futility of war? Wilfred Owens “Dulce et decorum est” tell us about the terrible and dreadful description suffered by a group of soldiers in the First World who gladly laid down their lives in the glory of battle. Dulce et decorum est, a very popular propaganda and a big lie which tells us that how sweet and fitting is to die for ones country. This poem is written in horrifying of how soldiers died to make the readers think that it is not sweet and fitting to die for ones country. Wilfred Owen thinks that fighting in a war can be a terrible experience.
His dramatic descriptions, tone of desperation, using images of pain and sorrow and his unique rhythms seek to convince us the horror and terror of those who went through the war. His use of techniques helps us understand his point of view, displaying the horrors of fighting the war. This poem tell us that how it is an honour to die for your country yet also the horrors of fighting the war. In the first stanza, Wilfred Owen have used of figurative language like alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphors and loads of similes.
He have used words like…. Bent beggars”, “knocked knees”, “hags”, all these powerful figurative words creates an image to produce a pitiful sense of despair “………. coughing like old hags” Wilfred Owen uses simile which effectively creates a scene of terrible situation. Coughing suggests that the soldiers are tired and sick. Wilfred Owen tries the reader to feel sorry and pity because winning the war at that moment is hopeless. Men were tired in the war, it brought to a level of hags and beggars. The sentence….. ”Men marched asleep” the three bold words imitate the scene of exhausted men, where they all went lame and blind.
The term “blood-shod” not only describes the men’s feet covered in blood but brings to mind connotations of blood-shot and blood-shed, phrases that aptly describe the situation. “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! ”, Owen uses an extended metaphor of the sea and drowning to recreate the froth-choked drowning caused by a gas attack. The oxymoron “an ecstasy of fumbling” describes us the panic and frightful condition of the soldiers where they have to put their gas masks just on time. The word “Ecstasy” could mean that they are high off the gas, or maybe just a state of overwhelming emotion.
He also tried to create a sense of dreadful scene in the reader’s mind which horrifies and frightens the reader…………. ”floundering like a man in fire or lime” Wilfred Owen has used a simile again which effectively created a horrific scene in the readers mind. That sentence evokes us that the soldier is balanced and is trying to stay upright in fire. “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight” this sentence could maybe mean that the soldier was having a flashback or maybe just so poisoned from the gas that he felt that he was in a dream.
This shows how the soldiers were in such a pain and realized that fighting in a war is not an easy task. Wilfred Owen uses various kinds of words which describe the situation of the soldiers in the war………”guttering, chocking, drowning” which suggests us that the soldiers were in the horrible condition in sorrow and pain. The word “guttering” suggests us how the soldiers depart from their lives like water draining down a gutter. Soldiers try to fight and win but they had to go through horrifying and awful situations, they were yelling, stumbling, trying to look through the green thick light.
Alliteration serves to draw the attention of the reader, as expressed in: “And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,” which creates a stark and confronting image within the reader’s mind. “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” Wilfred Owen uses simile and describe the condition of the soldier and tells us how bad and nasty they were in the war, the soldier’s face was melting and looked very filthy and disgusting. This also arouses the sympathy of the responder as they witness the grotesque nature of such a death.
Owen has used metaphor to describe the pathetic scene where soldiers are dying and they cant do anything about it,” devil’s sick of sin”, devil is never sick of sin, meaning it was a horrible sight to see. “Obscene as cancer, bitter as cud” He also tries to tell us over here that they were pathetic and repulsive and tries the reader to feel ghastly and unpleasant to feel sorry for them. He uses these words to tell the people that how evil and dreadful the war was at what circumstances the soldiers went through.
In the last stanza, Owen put us in a wicked situation, asking us that if we could hear every jolt and could see every obscene so we would never tell other in such happiness and enthusiasm, eager for some hopeless glory. The sentence “My friend, would not tell you with such high zest” refers to the young soldiers that are so naive when they sign up to serve their country. The military will never tell you the truth, only the old lie “Dulce et Decorum est” which means it is sweet and fitting to fight and die for your country. The title “Exposure” explains us that soldiers are exposed by the war and the cold weather.
They are very tired and exhausted of killing their enemy and seeing their own people on the death’s door. Soldiers couldn’t bear the bad weather at the battle field and are slowly freezing to death; they were shivering and trembling due to the climate and fear. Wilfred Owen illustrates us that no matter how the soldiers are prepared and ready to fight, something’s are bound to happen. In the poem, he explain us that how the soldiers suffer in that cold temperature and how they fight and defend their country. Wilfred Owen effectively uses personification to portray the intensity of the situation, “….. erciless iced eat winds which that knifes us” , soldiers are being affected by the dreadful weather, strong wind which try to cut through their skin.
Wilfred Owen is trying to tell that the cold weather is also trying to fight against the wind and the soldiers have to face it. Soldiers are tired and mentally disturbed, controlling their patience keeping awake the whole noiseless night worried by the silence. Sentries and their nervousness but unfortunately nothing happens. The phrase “dropping” is that example of onomatopoeia which means that the soldiers were blank and their minds were empty.
They had no idea what to do. Soldiers waiting in desperate, full of fear and worn out, waiting in their trenches, comes across creepy noises and voices and gets more frightened. Wilfred Owen uses simile in this sentence and in talking about the weather and mental tricks played on the soldiers. “…… mad guts tugging on the wire like twitching agonies of men”. In this sentence, it gives us an idea of how wind is playing mentally with the soldiers. The phrase “what are we doing”, soldiers are stressed and are lying in open under freezing temperatures and they cannot move or fight the war in this low temperature.
Owen have effectively used onomatopoeia and personification for the phrases “air that shudders” which means that the weather was very mad and it cuts through their skin. He also used alliteration, “….. sudden successive fight of the bullets streak the silence”, it had the continuous “s” sound which goes along with the sentence. The sentence “flowing flakes that flock” is an example of assonance which effectively had been used as there is a lot wind flowing and driving all the soldiers mad.