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Flashcards in Dulce et Decorum Est Deck (18):


Wilfred Owen



- there's no honour/nobility in war/fighting for your country
- also discusses the futility + horror of war



- Owen laments loss of human life in poem
- fought in some major WW1 battles, shocked by reality of war
- wanted everyone to know what it was really like on the front/s + stop telling "the old lie"


Structure of the poem

- built around 3 powerful, disturbing images
- 4 irregular stanzas
- 4 main parts/points


Image 1 (Stanza 1)

- quotes 1 + 3 show sheer exhaustion of men, struggling to keep going, wonderful imagery
- quote 2 puts haunting image in mind of single line of men making way through body-littered battlefield w/ flares lighting up sky behind
- slow pace to match the sluggishness of the men


Image 2 (Stanzas 2 + 3)

- tone takes on sense of urgency - "G,G,QB!"
- sense of desperation - quote 4 (fumbling despite urgency)
- takes on dreamlike quality in quote 5 - use of word "flound'ring to describe movements of man who was too late makes us think of fish who can't breathe out of water like man can't breathe in gas
- Owen uses metaphor to compare gas to sea, that man is drowning
- men are helpless, can do nothing but look on as comrade suffers
- in quote 6 can see sheer desperation of man to survive - haunting image that Owen says haunts him in dreams
- quote 6 man is described as guttering as candle gutters before dies for lack of oxygen


Image 3 (stanza 4)

- harrowing image of man being 'flung' on wagon + carted back
- this shows the indignity of death/no dignity afforded to the dying
- quotes 7 + 8 are examples of incredible imagery, feel as if am there watching - can see picture of man with blood frothing from mouth
- repetition of some for of 'if you' at beginning of stand + 4 lines down display the almost accusing tone of Owen towards the reader/s
- lasts lines of poem are imperative, where Owen gives opinions on war
- says in quote 9 that if people at home talking about the heroism of war knew what it was really like they wouldn't continue spreading the 'old lie'

- is in essence condemning war + those who glorify it


What techniques are used? Explain + give examples

1. Simile
- bent double, like old beggars under sacks
- coughing like hags (these show exhaustion of men)
- as under a green sea (from behind gas mask, drowning in 'sea of gas')
2. Rhyming
- ABAB format (e.g. sacks, sludge, backs, trudge)
- this reflects the dull, routine trudge of the men through the battlefield, and the choice of words to rhyme can reflect what is happening the the poem, e.g. words ending in -ing have effect of slow motion, i.e. the slow drowning
3. Alliteration
- white eyes writing
- men marched asleep (repeated m sound feels slow + sleepy, making reader feel how men feel)

4. Imagery
- clear image of men so exhausted can barely walk
- quote 2 shows image of line of men staggering through no-mans land littered with bodies w/ flares lighting up sky behind them
- quote 5 gives image of man 'drowning' as if in sea
- quote 6 give image of desperate man 'plunging'
- quotes 7+8 give horrifying image of dying man, blood frothing + eyes writing, flung in cart (this image shows the indignity of death)


Quote 1

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge


Quote 2

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs


Quote 3

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame;all blind;
Drunk with fatigue


Quote 4

An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets on just in time


Quote 5

Dim through the misty panes + thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning


Quote 6

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning


Quote 7

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face


Quote 8

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs


Quote 9

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory


Extra quote for dreams point

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in