On the first read-through of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est it seems to just be a poem describing a soldiers experience in World War I, but there is much more to the story than that. Through the use of several literary techniques, Owen is able to vividly describe the speaker’s experiences and at the same time make them relatable to the people reading the poem. He also is able to criticize the people who he thinks are at least partly responsible for “tricking” a younger, more gullible him into the situation in the first place.
Owen uses very vivid imagery throughout the poem to describe how horrible the war was to the speaker and his fellow soldiers. He starts by describing how worn and tired he and his fellow soldiers are as they start “towards our distant rest” (Owen 695) which can be interpreted as them simply just walking back to their barracks to sleep or, in a darker sense, to their deaths. He describes how they marched asleep and how they were too tired to even hear the sounds of the gas shells dropping behind them. “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!” (Owen 695) someone yells when they finally realize what it happening. All of the soldiers scramble to put on their gas masks but at least one man near the speaker can’t make it to his mask in time; “But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...” (Owen 695).
Owen then flashes forward in time describing how the death of the soldier still haunts his dreams; “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” (Owen 696). He witnessed a man die before him, there wasn’t anything he could do to help him, and it still haunts the speaker. He describes how he saw “the white eyes writhing in his face,” (Owen 696) and how he “could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,” (Owen 696). The poison affected him so fast he describes it as cancer happening before your eyes and how the soldier was covered in raw sores as he died. He ends the poem criticizing those at home who promote the war with energy by saying that if they had witnessed the things he had witnessed, they wouldn’t want to go to war or send recruit any young soldiers. Through the use of all of this imagery, Owen is able to show, through only words, the horrors of war and what World War I has done to him.
Through the first person point of view Owen makes the descriptions of war more personal. First person is more personal because describing horrors of war that happened to this specific soldier and that makes his descriptions much more relatable than just describing to the reader that horrors happened. If he was to just describe that the soldiers of World War I were battle worn, cold, and tired we as readers would still understand the meaning behind the poem but he makes it much more personal by making first person descriptions of the soldiers that the speaker witnessed. Owen describes how he and his fellow soldiers sludged...