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Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum Est


Stanza 1

Sarcasm/irony: opposite of poems actual content (title)

Hyperbole: soldiers are old before their time and rendered vulnerable (Bent double, like old beggars under sacks)

Onomatopoeia: recreates scene to draw in audience (Knock-kneed, coughing like hags)

Alliteration: emphasises exhaustion (Men marched asleep.)

Simile: not only comparing them as dirty, ragged and sick, but a connotation of being uncared for (like old beggars under sacks coughing like hags)

Hyperbole: stresses current condition (All went lame; all blind)

Metaphor: highlights impact of war on men (Drunk with fatigue)

Connotation: hardship of war (deaf even to the hoots)

Punctuation: creates horror of the situation

Stanza 2

Instructional language and repetition: increases tension and creates sense of urgency (Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!)

Assonance: used to highlight his experience of drowning (Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light)

Verb and adjective: undercut any romantic image of war (An ecstasy of fumbling)

Simile: secures our empathy (And floundering like a man in fire or lime)

Simile: likens the gas to the sea to show suffocating effects (As under a green sea, I saw him drowning)

Stanza 3

Paradox: Sight acts as a synecdoche- standing in for a speaker as a whole

Understatement: the dreams are actually nightmares (In all my dreams)

Stanza 4

Negative descriptive language: to show war is not glorified (If in some smothering dreams you too could pace)

Inclusive language: forces the reader to empathise (Behind the wagon that we flung him in)

Alliteration: used to stress the horrific sight (And watch the white eyes writhing in his face)

Ironic simile: a soldier is a victim of the evil at war (like a devils sick of sin)

Repetition (of if): shows Owens realisation his message may not be accepted

Capitalisation: shows the falsity of the lie (Lie)

Rhyme: an ironic agreement in sound which exposes the falsity of the propaganda


Quality of meaning in bent double- soldiers have become like old beggars and coughing like hags with the similes showing they are the antithesis of the stereotype of strong, masculine soldiers emphasising they are physically derelict and mentally numb, which is reinforced by the alliteration men marched asleep

Repetition of all emphasises the extent of their suffering, whilst the parallel construction of all went lame; all blind combined with the pluralised men emphasises the universal misery

Aural imagery is conveyed through words such as trudge, blood-shod, drunk and tired to convey the misery and oppressiveness of the situation created by the plodding rhythm of the opening stanza

Dramatic imagery is conveyed through the imperative Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! with the capitalisation and exclamation marks highlighting the urgency of the situation

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light/ As under a green sea I saw him drowning -the colour imagery and simile conveys not only the physical impact of the horror of war but the psychological impact as he retains the nightmare of the man drowning , showing youths lost innocence

The psychological impact is reinforced by the use of grotesque verbs such as guttering, choking, drowning, smothering, hanging and gargling as Owen catalogues the physical and psychological suffering of youth who have lost their innocence

Helpless sight- paradoxical synecdoche- the soldiers sight is fine but he is helpless

Metaphors of drunk and deaf show the desensitisation of the soldiers

Simile floundering like a man in fire or lime secures the audience empathy as we sense their powerlessness and pity men trapped by war

Active verb- flung him in shows their is no honour or glory in war

Ironic simile- like a devils sick of sin is ironic as although the soldier appears to be a devil through partaking in killing he is really a victim of warfare

Come gargling from froth corrupted lungs obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud combines dramatic imagery and similes to shock those at home out of acceptance of the propaganda at home that said it was noble to sacrifice your life in battle

My friend- bitter tone shows that he believes that propaganda is a tale for children and adults should face the reality of war and soldiers deaths and not glorify them

The rhyme glory and mori is an ironic agreement in sound which exposes the falsity of the propaganda

The change in pronouns from first person to pluralisation we shows he has used intensely personal experience to create a poem where lessons apply to us all about the cruelty and horror of war and the physical and psychological damage it causes

Anthem for Doomed Youth


Assonance: mournful tone (doomed youth)

Adjective: negative tone- sense of overwhelming fate that humans cant reverse (doomed)

Rhetorical question: underlines Owens belief of Whats the point? (What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?)

Simile: humanity is stripped from soldiers (these who die as cattle)

Repetition: stresses the nature of their death (Only)

Personification, alliteration and onomatopoeia: combine to enhance the cruelty and brutality of war (Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle)

Negative connotations: stressed by the alliterative refuted use of no, nor showing Christian rites are actually mockeries

Hyphen and semi-colon: create pauses stressing no funeral rites can be given

Personified sibilant phrase: emphasises sadness and impact of their deaths at home (And bugles calling for them from sad shires)

Reflective tone: stresses how war strips men of human dignity (What candles may be held to speed them all?)

Rhetorical question: indicates shift in poem- the poem is now comparing a right and fitting death to death at war

Extended metaphor: reinforces the idea that there is no good send-off for youth who die (glimmer, shine, candles)

Tone of sestet: softer and more compassionate mourning of the lost youth

Alliteration: creates a somber, solemn atmosphere (And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds)

Rhyming couplet: emphasises the impact of the soldiers deaths (patient minds drawing down of blinds)


The adjectives rapid and hasty emphasise the quick firing of rifles, whilst the alliteration in rifles rapid rattle is aural imagery of the battlefield as it is further combined with onomatopoeia such as patter and wailing shells emphasises the horror of the battlefield

The archaic language of orisons is used by Owen to show that the modern world that was cruelly born in WW1 has discarded traditional funeral rites, symbolising they have also discarded the spiritual value that was once placed on human life

He is also criticising the Churchmen who saw war as a holy cause when the reality was actually against religious value

The alliterative negatives in no mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;/Nor any voice of mourning) emphasises the horror and suffering of war

The only choirs accompanying the soldiers deaths is that of gunfire and wailing shells- the onomatopoeia emphasises that there would be no comfort in traditional funeral rites as their deaths are a waste

The sibilant personified sad shires shows the change in world values as previously each of these deaths would have been mourned individually as members of a community, not dehumanised as part of mass destruction

The main concern about the pity of war can be seen in the use of personification in monstrous guns as there is no dignity in anonymous deaths, just as a waste of youth

He re-emphasises this idea with his use of boys and girls in the poems conclusion

The rhetorical question that opens this sestet suggests the soldiers will only be remembered through the grief of their loved ones. The government and church will not mourn for them

The symbolism in each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds- symbolises not only the end of day English custom of closing the blinds whilst in mourning, but also the drawing down or end of the soldiers lives

The emotive language of tenderness of patient minds establishes grieving at home for the soldiers will be greater than grieving on the battlefield

The brevity of the poem with its tight structure and economic language is used by Owen to reinforce the soldiers unnaturally shortened life span and shows Owens disdain for the war

However, Owen shows understanding of the powerlessness of those at home to stop the senseless killing of the doomed youth making the poem a combination of poignancy and bitterness, emphasising his criticism of the brutality of war



Instructional language: heightened by the use of present tense imperatives (Move him in the sun)

Symbol of life: depicted in positive term as a gentle force (sun)

Personification: warmth/ gentle giver of life and heat- a possible saviour for this man. (Gently its touch awoke him once)

Nostalgic references: to home with connotations to peace and safety (at home)

Assonance: the letter o creates a long drawn out sound, reflecting his distance from home (whispering of field unsown)

Placement of always emphasises the contrast with until- shows theyre desperate and refuse to accept he is dead

Personification: gentle and father figure (The kind old sun will know)

Extended metaphor: sun as father a