H. English 1 2A
9 March 2015
Expressing the Theme of Dulce et Decorum Est
Millions of lives were lost on the battlefields of WWI. Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen, was a poem written to describe the atrocities of “The Great War”. It provides a firsthand account of the deadly chemical warfare that occurred during trench warfare. Over the course of the poem, Owen uses imagery, spacing techniques, and figurative language to convey his utter disgust for the false glorifications of war.
Owen’s use of captivating imagery is a defining characteristic of the poem. His wording paints vivid images into the minds of the reader and makes it much more relatable. In the beginning, the speaker uses terms like "old beggars" and "hags" which served to describe the appearance of his crippled comrades. Suddenly, the mood changes from somber to terrified. The soldiers are jolted into an “ecstasy of fumbling” as described by the speaker. One might even think he was talking about something happy. The harsh reality was that he was actually referring to the frantic men attempting to equip their gas masks. The “green sea” of gas was incredibly thick yet the speaker was able to make out the silhouette of a man “drowning” in it. An entire stanza is devoted to describing the man’s suffering. Words such as “guttering”, “choking”, and “drowning” create horrendous images in one’s head. Finally, Owen concludes the poem by saying “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory The old Lie…”. Without this powerful wording, the poem couldn’t possibly carry the same emotional weight.
Owen’s use of spacing along with figurative language was also crucial in displaying the theme of Dulce et Decorum Est. In the beginning, he uses a lot of hyperboles to build suspense and draw the reader in. The speaker described the men as “lame” and “blind”.