The Horrors of War in Wilfred Owen's Poem, Dulce et Decorum Est

1032 Words 5 Pages
The Horrors of War in Wilfred Owen's Poem, Dulce et Decorum Est


From the earliest records of history, accounts of war have been portrayed as valiant acts of heroism. Children and adults alike have gathered together to hear tales of war and its glory. From the stories of Alexander the Great to recent-day movies like Saving Private Ryan, war has been praised and exalted with words such as bravery, honor, and freedom. However, Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" shows the ugly, horrible side of fighting. By use of gripping words and vivid descriptions, Owen paints incredible pictures of what World War I was really like. He tears away the glory and drama and reveals the real essence of fighting: fear, torture, and death. No longer
…show more content…
Then, "An ecstasy of fumbling / Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time / But someone still was yelling out and stumbling [. . .]. " Everyone has managed to put on his mask, except one unfortunate soldier. As the mustard gas seeps into his lungs, he begins to scream and jerk around, but it is too late for his companions to save him. "[W]atch the white eyes writing in his face / His hanging face / [. . .] at every jolt, the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs [. . .] / Of vile, incurable sores on the innocent tongue [. . .]. " Nowhere in the entire poem is there any mention of how wonderful and brave the soldiers feel at being given the chance to die for their country.

Second, striking similes are used throughout the whole poem. The speaker does not content himself with using age-old phrases or comparisons. His similes are unique and gripping. "Like old beggars under sacks," "like a man in fire or lime," and "like a devil's sick of sin," help to add vivid mental pictures to the poem. The soldier's uniforms are ripped and threadbare from all the fighting, and they are so exhausted that they bend over as they walk. The man that breathed the mustard gas is in such incredible pain that all he can do is jerk about as if he were on fire. After a while, the gas causes his face to sag until he resembles something from the horrors of hell. The speaker's similes are ones that cause the reader to stop and just think about what is being described…