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Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' | anti-war elements

Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' | anti-war elements

Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' | anti-war elements

Q. Discuss the anti-war elements in Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est'.

Answer: Wilfred Owen is a notable English poet as well as a soldier during the First World War. Dulce et Decorum est is one of the remarkable poems of his literary compositions.  In this poem he exposes the horrors and realities of war.

Owen’s poem, Dulce et Decorum est is, no doubt, a strong anti-war poem. Through its graphic imagery and critical tone, Wilfred Owen conveys his message that war is nothing but a devastating endeavor. There is no glory participating in war. It is an act of futility.

In this poem, Wilfred Owen uses the vivid and graphic imagery. He employs descriptive language to expose the helpless condition of the soldier’s suffering. For example, he writes, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” The line reveals the soldiers as worn-out and physically exhausted.

Besides, Owen’s description of a gas attack is very horrific. He describes the horrific sight of a wounded soldier. He was struggling to put on his gas mask in time. The entire environment was engulfed by the poisonous gas:

"And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime... / Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, / As under a green sea, I saw him drowning."

This primeval and hunting image evokes a sense of terror and helplessness. It emphasizes the inhumanity and senselessness of war.

Wilfred Owen uses words, like, "blood-shod," "guttering," and "cursed," etc. Through these words, Owen exposes the sense of brutality and suffering. Wilfred Owen challenges the notion of futile war. He wants to convey the message that there is nothing honorable and noble in a war. Rather, he reveals its true nature as a destructive force. It also dehumanizes those who involve in war.

However, Wilfred Owen demoralizes this traditional notion of glory that can be achieved through war.  Wilfred Owen uses irony to emphasize the stark contrast between the glorification of war and the harsh realities faced by the soldiers.

He writes:

 "My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori"

The above lines employ that it is a lie to claim that dying for one’s country is sweet and honorable.

Wilfred Owen, in fact, conveys anti-war sentiments through its vivid imagery. In this poem he uses touching language and critical tone only to satirize the romantic notion of war.

The poem defies the romanticized view of war. The poem, also, exposes its brutal reality. The worn-out conditions of the soldiers’ suffering, particularly during a gas attack convey the anti war message. Moreover, Owen’s use of emotive language and irony is also remarkable to reveal the anti romantic view of war.

Thus, through this poem Wilfred Owen sheds light on the horror and futility of war. Owen’s poem, hence, serves a poignant critic of the romantic notion of war. He emphasizes that war can never brings glory over the realities of war. Therefore, Wilfred Owen’s poem, Dulce et Decorum est is no doubt an anti war poem.

*****

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