In Wilfred Owne's Poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, He Attempts to Enlighten the Public to the Tragedies of War
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“Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen takes its title from the Latin phrase that means “It is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country”. Quite often the barbaric nature of war is over romanticized and the author uses this title satirically to mock the public’s deluded view of war. The poem graphically describes the hell soldiers have to endure in their everyday battle for survival. These are tragedies of war that only veterans can fully understand and Wilfred Owen tries to enlighten the general public of these tragedies through imagery and similes throughout his poem. The speaker lets the reader know right away about the reality of war. The invincible, fearless soldiers that are envisioned by the reader are quickly transformed into…show more content…
Using the simile “like a man in fire or lime” (line 12) the author describe the torture being inflicted upon this man, “floundr’ing” (line 12) as if he were burring alive. Two lines later the dying soldier is said to drowning “under a green sea” (line 14), underlining his extreme pain and misery as he is described as drowning and being burned alive simultaneously.
Since the soldiers could do nothing to help the dying man they “flung” (line 18) him behind a wagon. This shows how people are dehumanized in war and their lives are disposable and can simply be flung away to become another statistic. When the narrator says, “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,” (line 15) it insinuates that all his dreams have been replaced by nightmares of the chilling memory of how he could not do anything to help his fellow soldier. He can only replay the horrific memory of the gas attack over and over inside his head. The reader cannot help but visualize this young soldier dying a slow, painful death. This emphasizes the sarcasm in the title. How can anyone glorify a death so horrible?
The speaker finally addresses the reader by saying, “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory,/ The old Lie:/ Dulce et decorum est” (lines 25-28). The Latin phrase “Dulce et decorum est” is referred to as the “old lie”. The narrator bitterly believes that the people at home got him into this mess