The Negative View Of Society In Wilfred Owen's Poetry

1150 words - 5 pages

Dulce et Decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth are both written by Wilfred Owen, and both are written to show “the war [World War I] and the pity of war”. Owen does this by regaling very sad and often shocking poems that I believe are very effective in delivering their purpose. Both poems present negative views of society through tone and metaphors and Dulce et Decorum est also uses similes.

A poem that presents a negative view on society is Dulce et Decorum est. It is a satirical poem about the old Latin saying it is entitled after. Through this poem Owen is trying to tell us that this old saying is a lie, and that war is much less glorious than many adults make it out to be. From the very first line “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” it is clear that Dulce Et Decorum Est is a very negatively toned poem. This is reinforced by other lines in the first stanza such as “All went lame; all blind” and “And towards our distant rest began to trudge”. This negative tone, which is brought about by the by the emotive language used (like “old” and “trudge”), creates a grim scene for the setting of the war. This depressing start for the poem presents war as a horrific place where young men do not find glory, but instead it is a place where hope is lost, and it is a place from which all regret venturing. After this gloomy first stanza, the second and third use many similes and metaphors to bring to our attention the revolting and shocking horrors that soldiers witness when at war. Similes such as “Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud” and “like a devil’s sick of sin” describe horrible images of a man slowly dying due to inhaling toxic gas. Through words such as ‘obscene’, ‘cancer’ and ‘sick’ these similes evoke emotions of disgust and revulsion from the readers because they make the scene seem so frighteningly realistic. This detailed imagery helps the reader to visualise how terrible it would be to go into war and witness these atrocities. The metaphors “the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs” and “vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues” have the same effect as the similes through their unpleasant words; they are there to shock you, and they are so haunting that they amplify the effect of the satirical ending “Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori.”, which means ‘it is sweet and fitting to die for your country’. Owen presents society negatively through this poem because in the poem we see that adults are lying to young men in order to get them to go to war, for example by using the saying “Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori”. By showing us how gruesome the war is, and then by explaining to us that the adults are telling children that it is sweet and fitting to die for your country, Owen is trying to show how society is almost tricking teenagers into wanting to go fight in the war. This obviously presents a negative view on society, but it serves Owen’s purpose of wanting to show the pity of war.

Another poem which...

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