Essay, Research Paper: Dulce Et Decorum Est


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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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