How does Wilfred Owen represent conflict in Dulce ET Decorum Est? Refer to other poems in your answer. The entire story of Dulce et Decorum revolves around conflict. It was the first poem to show a realistic description of the war. It was conflict that created the atrocity that we call ‘The Great War’. This is showing one of the many devices Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon used in their famous War poems and the conflict that ended the lifestyles that they describe. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were personally involved in the War and so had first- hand experience of the horrors of trench warfare.
Owen shows war and conflict in a negative way and one way he does this is through the use of evil connotations – for example referring to “hags” when he is talking about the young soldiers. The word hags shows how the war has changed these soldiers into brutal, evil individuals. Owen’ s language is filled with not so much anger but with sadness and bitterness . He uses rhetorical questions to show his frustration at the madness of war and the effect on people’s lives.
It is not the physical wounds but the mental ones that are impossible to heal. The who, where and why questions, remain unanswered in the first part of the poem.The second section portrays the past lives and how now they will always see and hear the horrors of war. This shows the conflict between their past lives and their possible future. World War one was an experience for civilisation and as a result of the extreme and horrific conditions the soldiers were subjected to, it encouraged many of them to record such conditions. Having seen the trench trauma of modern day warfare in 1914-1918 it allowed the two poets to show a frontline view, letting the readers know life behind the gas mask and the truth about the conflict.At the beginning of Dulce ET Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen tells us of the actions of his team. “Bent double…knock-kneed, coughing like hags.
” This illustrates the struggle the soldiers face even when returning home to the apparent safety of their barracks. Even when gunfire has ceased in their area, they are still suffering due to the position the conflict has put them in. The only thing the other soldiers can do is sit back and watch their comrade die because of the gas. “ he plunges at me ,guttering ,choking, drowning”.In the rest of the paragraph Owen elaborates more on the environmental conflict, because many of the soldiers died due to conditions rather than as a result of direct combat, which was a significant factor to the war.
Another one of Owens Poems “Base Detail” portrays conflict from a negative perspective . We can see this in Dulce ET Decorum Est, “we cursed through sludge” and Sassoon’s Suicide in the trenches “in winter trenches, cowed and glum”. These poems show those “smug-faced crowds” that the conditions are far worse than the everyday British life. While you are knitting socks to send your son”, extracted from Glory of Women, presents an interesting image of a warm and cosy lifestyle, instead of the destruction in which warfare takes place.
At the beginning of the poem Owen describes to the reader the terrible conditions he and his fellow comrades are in and they make their way back to the war zone and he does this by using similes and metaphors “” Bent double like old beggars under sacks”. ” Knock-kneed , coughing like hags , we cursed through sludge”.It gives the impression of troops of men trudging along, ill and war-torn struggling to keep awake. Onomatopoeia is used to describe the muddy conditions “sludge” and “trudge” . The physical conflict is the challenge of the gas attack and the soldiers panic when it happens. The psychological conflict is the challenge of this gas attack and the trauma of seeing colleagues die and how it is remembered in dreams.
Owen portrays an extremely negative view of war, as did Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon found it irritating that people in England simply cheered as soldiers went by.The people expected the soldiers to act patriotically and he was angry that they knew nothing about the horrors. He used “Suicide in the Trenches” to persuade the public what it was really like.
He tells of the very young boys being sent to fight in the trenches , and one ending up a lone survivor who eventually put a bullet through his head . He was very angry that the people who lived in England “never spoke of him again”. Basically there was huge censorship preventing the release of information so that all the women back home thought they were doing the right thing in their “worship “ of “decorations.This outlines the huge conflict of reality in the trenches and the comfort at home in England. The comparison between the home front and the war front are major themes covered in many of the poems. Obviously, physical conflict was the prime factor on the death toll in 1914-1918 that is something that has never changed. Unfortunately for Wilfred Owen he was involved in some of the everyday events involving physical conflict. This he shows in the first line of the second paragraph…”Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling.
” Once again nother display of oxymoron, he uses this device to not only show a scene of conflict, but to show the details severity, much like the gas drowning the poor soldier without a mask. “As under a green sea, I saw him drowning”. Dulce Et Decorum Est outlines the “pity of war” . It is the most recognised poem he wrote. He demonstrates how the soldiers struggled to return to their barracks.
At this point Owen is showing us life behind the gas mask. He describes one of his colleagues burning from the inside due to an anonymous gas canister in his platoon.The poet then says that he could never have imagined this, “in all my dreams, before my helpless sight” how he was watching such atrocities but was of no use to the unfortunate soldier. In the next paragraph Owen turns to a more gruesome route of poetry, still describing the death of his gas-filled colleague he uses terms like “watch the white eyes writhing in his face” and “the blood come gargling from his froth-corrupted lungs”. He even compares it to cancer, evidently it is a more painful death but the waiting for it to finish and the obscurity of it all is just as difficult to cope.However, in poems such as The Soldier by Rupert Brooke he is saying that war is an honour. To serve your country; there is no greater deed.
This shows that war generated mixed opinions. Rupert Brooke believes that if he is killed abroad “ There’s some corner of a foreign field which is forever England” . He feels grateful for what this country has given him . Perhaps he thinks that dying for his country lets him pay back what he has had during his life.
His style is very different from that of Wilfred Owen. Brooke wrote about the good of dying and Owen thought the exact opposite.The structure and rhyming of a poem can also present conflict. Sassoon in Base Detail employs a sarcastic attitude when describing War. But the closing couplet loses the sarcasm and ends on a serious note.
In the last two lines there is no gap between the rhymes and reflects Sassoon’s bitterness. He expresses bitterness about the “scarlet majors” and wishes they would die . He expresses bitterness by the use of the dialogue “ I’d toddle safely home and die-in-bed” . This is in sharp contrast and conflicts with the way the soldiers are dying.To sum up, conflict is shown in these poems via language techniques such as simile and onomatopoeia, imagery and the structure of the poems .
Rupert Brooke portrays conflict as positive and glorifies heroism and nationalism. He never experienced war so his attitude was based only on what he read in the newspapers. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen portrayed conflict as a negative event. The works of all of these poets use poetic devices to get the conflict message across including , the structure of the poem, sarcasm and the use of grotesque or pleasant imagery.