Astonishing Imagery in Wilfred Owen's Poem, Dulce et Decorum Est

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The poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen portrays the horrors of World War I with the horrific imagery and the startling use of words he uses. He describes his experience of a gas attack where he lost a member of his squadron and the lasting impact it had on him. He describes how terrible the conditions were for the soldiers and just how bad it was. By doing this he is trying to help stop other soldiers from experiencing what happened in a shortage of time.

Owen opens his poem with a strong simile that compares the soldiers to old people that may be hunch-backed. ‘Bent double, like old beggars like sacks.’ ‘like sacks’ suggests the image that the soldiers are like homeless people at the side of a street that is all dirty. This
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‘Limped on’ suggests that the men were just tropping along, many with no boots on. The soldiers feet must have been throbbing as their must have been lots of stones, rocks and un-even ground at the combat zone. ‘Blood shod’ shows that the soldiers were either injured and covered in their own blood or covered in other hurt soldiers blood. The conditions in battle were terrible and were definitely shocking.

The soldier’s exhaustion is shown in the metaphor ‘Drunk with fatigue.’ This highlights that the soldiers are falling about as they are tired and have had very little sleep, if any. The expression tells us that they are staggering about like they were under the influence of alcohol and has had too much drink. Owen also shows they were that tired they couldn’t hear the deafening noise of the bombs going off and that they were getting used to the constant noise in their ears when he says ‘deaf even to the hoots.’

Owen reveals the panic of the soldiers when he introduced repetition, exclamation marks and the use of capital letters at the start of his second stanza. ‘Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!’ this conveys the terror at combat when an unexpected gas attack immediately occurs. The word ‘boys’ shows how young the soldiers actually are and that they shouldn’t be in a situation like that because they are only at a young age and not stable or ready to deal with it.

The astonishing imagery we get from ‘Behind the wagon that we flung him in.’ is startling
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