Dulce et Decorum Est and The Last Night both convey the bittersweet pity of war in two very different, yet simultaneously similar ways. The way that these pieces of literature operate is starkly contrasting, and to some extent, reflects upon the nature and intent with which they were written. For example, in Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen was writing to protest against the atrocious conditions to which “children ardent for some desperate glory” were being sent to, and for this, he used extremely graphic and striking imagery to evoke emotions of disgust and repulsion into the reader, which would hopefully bring them to understand and appreciate Owen’s viewpoint. One unequivocally parallel aspect of both of these pieces of creative writing is the fact that both of them are condemning war, and trying to cast it as an abomination of human nature, and to this end they succeeded.
Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est is very up-front about the circumstances of war, and uses very little subtle language in his poem, instead preferring to stir up powerful emotions in the reader. He uses two key tools to achieve this aim: vivid literary devices, and an effective choice of words/language. These combine to create chilling images which create their own niche in the reader’s mind. To illustrate this, instead of saying simply that the young men fighting the war take on the appearance of old men, he says “bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” Apart from adding more spice to the poem, there are lots of different connotations to the choice of words that Owen chooses to use. He gives the impression that the proud, valiant, patriotic young soldiers have been bent into something that no longer resembles what they once were. He likens the burden they carry, and the posture they hold to much older men, suggesting that the war has caused these men to age prematurely, due to its horrendous nature. Another instance of rich figurative language is when Owen talks of a man and “hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin.” The first part, ‘the hanging face’, describes the drawn out expression which the soldiers hold, but even more poignant is the second part. The simile works because the metaphorical devil has had enough of the one thing he prizes: sin. By comparing this to the troops fighting in the trenches, Owen shows how they too have had enough of fighting, and that their own tongues are cloying with the taste of blood. The poem is littered with such metaphors, and all of them combine to produce a poem which conveys considerably more than it would have done without such literary tools.
Owen also uses a deliberate choice of words, and a very precise sense of diction. Words like ‘guttering, choking’ are very harsh on the ear, and this sets the tone of the poem appropriately.
Perhaps the whole reason as to why Wilfred Owen composed this poem is to try and show the true nature of the war as a response to Jessie Pope’s poem which glorified war, and in this respect it...