English 2 # 2069
6 November 2017
The Reality of War Expressed Through Dulce et Decorum Est
World War One was an event that changed the world, lasting a little over four years, no other event has changed humanity –and carried so much death– the same way World War One did. Despite many accounts from soldiers of the horrors they had witnessed on the front, many believed the battlefield to be a time to earn respect ,honor ,and glory. “Dulce et Decorum est” , by Wilfred Owen, is an elegy that illustrates to the reader the terrors of war in vivid detail in order to break them from their fantasized view of the war. Owen uses techniques such as imagery and word choice to describe the soldiers suffering in the trenches and running from death, him watching one of his comrades die, and the aftermath of his struggles, Owen creates an intense image that captures the horrifying truth of war.
The first two lines of the poem establish the scene, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,” (1-2). Owen starts off by illustrating how hard life is in the trenches, he describes the soldiers as bent double as to compare the men to beggars. By doing so, he depicts the struggles of trench life, the men are bent double as if they can no longer stand up straight due to the physical and emotional weight on their shoulders; they are afflicted with something causing them to hack and wheeze. By revealing their horrible living conditions, Owens shows that when they are not fighting they still suffering in their trenches sick, restless ,and decrepit.
After his group gets revealed by the enemy, Owens describes them fleeing to their camp that’s behind the front:
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind. (5-8)
The way Owens describes these characters really brings to life the suffering that these men have endured. The men are half asleep but they march on because they know that if they stop, they will die ,and that primal instinct to run causes them to forget their equipment such as boots , which were very important at that time for preventing diseases, and mutes their other sense dulling their perception of reality making them numb and unable to feel anything but march on blindly. By showing the men are not fully aware of what is occurring around them, they do not realize the “hoots of five-nines” –whistling of 5.9 caliber gas shells – landing behind them until it is too late. “Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,” (9-10). The first World War saw many advancements in warfare, none more popular yet controversial than the use of chemical gasses. Chlorine gas was the first of these agents to be implemented in the war. the word ecstasy is not used to express joy or relief, but...