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Imagery and Metaphor in Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est

Imagery and Metaphor in Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est

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.

Comparing The Charge of the Light Brigade and Dulce ET Decorum EST

Comparing The Charge of the Light Brigade and Dulce ET Decorum EST

The poems “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “Dulce ET Decorum EST” are war poems. They reflect on two different but equally harrowing events, however the poets portray these events using their own style and the and result is two entirely different views of war.

Alfred Tennyson wrote the “Charge of the Light Brigade” in 1854 and it is about the battle of Balaclava in the Crimean war. Although this battle had no real influence on the outcome of the war it showed the bravery of six hundred British soldiers who charged into almost certain death. The poem itself is a patriotic ballad keeping up with the tradition of the time. The poem is heroic and romantic.

“Dulce ET Decorum EST” was written by Wilfred Owen. It is based on World War 1 in which Owen himself fought. He tells of the terror of trench warfare and the frantic activity when a gas shell lands.

In some ways the two poems are similar for example both poets are obviously writing about war. They use rhyme to get across their point this also makes the poems easier to remember and say. They also use alliteration in “The Charge of the light brigade” Tennyson tells

Cannon to the right of them.

Cannon to the left of them.

Cannon in front of them

Also in Dulce ET decorum EST Owen uses alliteration

“Knock-knead, coughing like hags” and “Gas! Gas! Quick boys”

The poets each use punctuation to emphasise points they deem to be important. Tennyson varies his use of exclamation marks whereas Owen uses more full stops and commas so that when your reading you have slow down and take in what is being said. For example in “The Charge of the Light Brigade” “When can their gl…

… middle of paper …

…rge, this evidently does not concern him.

Finally Owen juxtaposes the idea of war as devastating and the idea of war as heroic when he says “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest, to children ardent for some desperate glory,” to illustrate the poems ultimate irony –“Dulce ET Decorum est pro patria mori.

In conclusion I would suggest that although these poems show completely different views we must also remember that they were written in two completely different eras. Tennyson’s view of war was of glory and honour reflecting the views of the population at the time. The great historical tradition of Britain as a military power ruling her empire. Owen writes about World War 1, which was the most devastating war the world had seen at that time, it lasted much longer than any war before it and generally was much more horrific.

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