Wilfred Owen English Essay

966 words - 4 pages

Wilfred Owen’s poetry reveals the destructive, haunting and sorrowful experience that come with war. His poetry both commemorates the soldiers who lost their lives and councils the readers about the inhumanity of the battlefield. Through the use of graphic and hellish imagery in his poems ‘Dulce et Decorum est’, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘The Next War’, Owen creates a disturbing narrative about war for those who know it intimately, like himself, and for those who have never been, as he positions the responder to feel awakened to and connected to the ideas of suffering, pity and inhumanity shown by those who sent young men to die.

The notion of profound suffering is a recurring theme in the story telling process of Owen’s poems as his intention is to vividly and audibly convey an accurate image of the misery on the battlefield, as a tribute to the soldiers that lost their lives and as a warning to those enamoured by the thought of fighting for one’s country or those left at home. In ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ the poor health and degraded physical conditions of the men is emphasised in “bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. This simile demonstrates how dirty and unhealthy the soldiers appear like “beggars”. The explicit connotation of the words ‘old’ and “bent double” highlights how the men have been aged prematurely by their battle fatigue. The aged imagery is intentional as Owen wishes for the responder to see the destructive effects war has on young men who are normally energetic. Owen’s graphic imagery draws the responder into the world of war, making the reader empathise with the physical distress of the soldiers. The auditory imagery in the cumulative listing of sounds “He plunges at me guttering, chocking, drowning” further reinforces the idea of a painful death through the sounds of one dying of a gas attack. Likewise, auditory and hellish imagery is also used in the poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ to emphasise the emotional suffering of soldiers due to the relentless horrific sounds of war as shown in the personified lines “… the monstrous anger of the guns” and “the shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells” to show the damaging psychological negative impact of hearing gun fire and explosions daily. Through these examples of physical and mental suffering Owen hopes to make the readers more aware of the devastation of war.

The pity of war is also strongly brought to the attention of the reader as he aims to highlight the waste of life through the deaths of young men and the sad reality of them being unjustly deprived of their funeral rights. Owen chronicles the common experience of death on the battlefield in ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ where he takes the reader into the action of a deadly gas attack and his eventual painful death in the...

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