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Dulce et Decorum Est


Based on the Poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owens

 The poem is one of the most powerful ways to convey an idea or 
opinion. Through vivid imagery and compelling metaphors, the poem 
gives the reader the exact feeling the author wanted. The poem "Dulce 
et Decorum Est," an anti-war poem by Wilfred Owen, makes great use of 
these devices. This poem is very effective because of its excellent 
manipulation of the mechanical and emotional parts of poetry. Owen's 
use of exact diction and vivid figurative language emphasizes his 
point, showing that war is terrible and devastating. Furthermore, the 
utilization of extremely graphic imagery adds even more to his 
argument. Through the effective use of all three of these tools, this 
poem conveys a strong meaning and persuasive argument. 
 The poem's use of excellent diction helps to more clearly 
define what the author is saying. Words like "guttering", "choking", 
and "drowning" not only show how the man is suffering, but that he is 
in terrible pain that no human being should endure. Other words like 
writhing and froth-corrupted say precisely how the man is being 
tormented. Moreover, the phrase "blood shod" shows how the troops 
have been on their feet for days, never resting. Also, the fact that 
the gassed man was "flung" into the wagon reveals the urgency and 
occupation with fighting. The only thing they can do is toss him into 
a wagon. The fact one word can add to the meaning so much shows how 
the diction of this poem adds greatly to its effectiveness.
 Likewise, the use of figurative language in this poem also 
helps to emphasize the points that are being made. As Perrine says, 
people use metaphors because they say "...what we want to say more 
vividly and forcefully..." Owen capitalizes greatly on this by using 
strong metaphors and similes. Right off in the first line, he 
describes the troops as being "like old beggars under sacks." This 
not only says that they are tired, but that they are so tired they 
have been brought down to the level of beggars who have not slept in a 
bed for weeks on end. Owen also compares the victim's face to the 
devil, seeming corrupted and baneful. A metaphor even more effective 
is one that compares "...vile, incurable sores..." with the memories 
of the troops. It not only tells the reader how the troops will never 
forget the experience, but also how they are frightening tales, ones 
that will the troops will never be able to tell without remembering 
the extremely painful experience. These comparisons illustrate the 
point so vividly that they increase the effectiveness of the poem.
 The most important means of developing the effectiveness of 
the poem is the graphic imagery. They evoke such emotions so as to 
cause people to become sick. The images can draw such pictures that 
no other poetic means can, such as in line twenty-two: "Come gargling 
from the froth corrupted lungs." This can be disturbing to think 
about. It shows troops being brutally slaughtered very vividly, 
evoking images in the reader's mind. In the beginning of the poem the 
troops were portrayed as "drunk with fatigue." With this you can 
almost imagine large numbers of people dragging their boots through 
the mud, tripping over their own shadow. Later in the poem when the 
gas was dropped, it painted a psychological image that would disturb 
the mind. The troops were torn out of their nightmarish walk and 
surrounded by gas bombs. How everyone, in "an ecstasy of fumbling" 
was forced to run out into the mist, unaware of their fate. Anyone 
wanting to fight in a war would become nervous at the image of himself 
running out into a blood bath. The graphic images displayed here are 
profoundly affecting and can never be forgotten.
 The poem ties it all together in the last few lines. In 
Latin, the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro partria mori" means: "It 
is sweet and becoming to die for one's country." Owen calls this a lie 
by using good diction, vivid comparisons, and graphic images to have 
the reader feel disgusted at what war is capable of. This poem is 
extremely effective as an anti-war poem, making war seem absolutely 
horrid and revolting, just as the author wanted it to.



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