Comparison Between Dulce Et Decorum Est & the Man He Killed

Last Updated: 25 May 2023
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The war poetry I am going to compare was written by Wilfred Owen and Thomas Hardy. Wilfred Owen was born in Wales in 1893. He wrote poetry as a teenager and at the age of 20 he began teaching English in France as an assistance teacher. 2 years later he joined the Manchester regiment and fought in World War 1 and 3 years later in 1918 he died near the Belgian border whilst taking his men across the Sambre canal at Ors. Therefore we know his writing shows his personal experiences. rdy was born in 1840 in the south of England. He began writing in 1867. He was more famous for his novels but also wrote about the Boer war.

In Dulce Et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen makes war seem horrific. When describing the soldiers, he says ‘Coughing like old hags’. From this we can see that he is implying that the young soldiers have become old and ill. Furthermore when describing the soldiers caught out without a gas mask during a gas attack, he says ‘the white eyes writhing in his face ’. He describes the soldiers death in graphic detail as he writes that he can hear ‘the blood, come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud ’. From these two quotes we can see that the wounded are going to suffer and die.

The language he has used is extremely disturbing. These injuries even caused nightmares as he says, ‘In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. ’ Within his poem, Owen uses many poetic devices and techniques. He makes use of alliteration, assonance, imagery, metaphors, similes, iambic pentameters, enjambment, meter, onomatopoeia, personification, 1st person, repetition, rhyme and stanzas. He makes use of alliteration when he says, ‘Knock-Kneed’ which suggests that the soldiers are crippled from their exertions.

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Also he uses it when saying ‘watch the white eyes writhing. ’ In this line he is trying to describe the soldiers' eyes as though they are attempting to exit their sockets. Also he practises the use of assonance. He unifies the first three lines with the words ‘sacks’, ‘hags’ and ‘backs. ’ These words imitate the coughing sound made by the soldiers. Furthermore when his Imagery uses the sense of touch when he says ‘an ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time. ’ He uses sight when he says, ‘As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. He uses taste when he says, ‘Bitter as the cud. ’ Finally he uses hearing when he says, ‘If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood, come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs. ’ Furthermore, metaphors also play a vital role in his poem. For example ‘Men marched asleep’, ‘Drunk with fatigue’. This suggests that all their senses are dulled and because of their tiredness, they are as good as dead. ‘Incurable sores on innocent tongues. ’ This phrase informs us that the soldiers were innocent and were being punished for no reason. Similarly, his uses of similes are evident in every stanza.

He describes soldiers ‘like old beggars’ and ‘Coughing like hags. ’ However the more graphic similes are used in stanzas 2 ; 3 where the soldier in caught in a gas attack. ‘Floundering like a man in fire or lime’ suggesting the burning effects of the gas. ‘As under a green sea, I saw him drowning’ portrays how intense the gas attack was that in encompassed the soldiers completely and how there was no escape. In the third stanza he describes the aftermath of the gas attack when he says, ‘His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin. This brings to mind very illustrative pictures of hell and the state of its inhabitants who will be tortured for all eternity. Iambic pentameters are used on all the lines except those that he wishes to emphasise. Enjambments are used as the lines flow into each other making it more pragmatic. He has used onomatopoeia to make a more vivid description of the vile sounds that could be heard during war. For example, ‘Guttering, choking’ and ‘gargling. ’ Also he says, ‘Gas, gas’ which imitates the hissing sound that could be heard from a gas canister.

Within this poem there is only one instance in this poem wherein he uses personification and that is when he describes the remains of the bomb shells, ‘disappointed shells. ’ This poem is told in the first person for example, ‘I saw him drowning. ’ ‘In all my dreams. ’ This shows us that he is speaking from personal experience. With regards to repetition he repeats the word drowning to exemplify the gravity of the attack. Furthermore he repeats the word gas to demonstrate the instant rush and panic that the gas attack caused among the soldiers.

In this poem Owen use the rhyming pattern of abab cdcd in stanza 1. In stanza 2 he uses efef gh and in the final stanza he uses gh ijij klkl mnmn. In the first stanza he describes the atmosphere prior to the gas attack. In the second he takes us moment by Moment through the gas attack and in the final stanza he illustrates the repercussion of the gas attack. He concludes the poem by saying ‘The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori’ showing that he feels that his experiences are far from beautiful or even honourable. The man he killed was written at the time of the Boer war.

This poem has some controversy with the setting in which it was written because it does not specifically refer to the Boer war but it could refer to any war. The poem was a conversation between the killer and the killed. He remarks about how much he and the victim had so much in common and how petty of a reason they had to kill each other. This poem is a very interesting piece of work. As easy as it is to read, it is in fact deeply burdened with irony and surprisingly colloquialism. Starting with the title, he has made use of 3rd person when he says ‘man HE killed. This is fascinating because, the entire poem is written in 1st person. The ‘He’ man is the individual who is trying to rationalise his slaying of another soldier. In this poem, the soldier who is talking defines all the parallels between him and his prey. He romantically reminisces how he could have been enjoying liberties of life with the man whom he killed and he uses analogies of wetting, nipperkin to show the frankness in tone and meanings. In the 2nd stanza, the narrator intensely describes how ‘I shot at him as he at me’ and ‘killed him in his place. Also he says where him and his foe met, Ranged as infantry’. He is reasoning that he had no choice in what happened. In the 3rd stanza, he confesses as to why he killed him. However on two occasions in the stanza, he begins to hesitate. The first is when he repeats the word, ‘because- Because he was my foe. ’ This hesitation also represents doubt. The second is where he mentions ‘my foe’ twice. This is significant because first there was the hesitation, and then there is him having to clarify his killing twice. This creates an atmosphere of even more tense and uspicion. To top it up, he makes it look as though what he did was downright typical by saying, ‘That's clear enough. ’ The ‘of course’ and ‘That's clear enough’ are palpably sarcastic. This is because nobody is enemies for no reason, despite him saying at the beginning ‘We should have set us down to wet(have a drink). ’ In stanza 4, the narrator explains the reason as to why his ‘foe’ was in the army. Again he draws comparisons between himself and his ‘foe’. He does this when he says, ‘Off-hand like--just as I--. He implies that he and ‘foe’ both never joined the army for patriotic reasons but they joined it because they both were ‘out of work. ’ ‘No other reason why. ’ In the final stanza, the poet tries to sum up his philosophy for killing the other man who was just like him. He confesses and says that wars are ‘strange-quaint’ and ‘curious. ’ The last line obliquely impregnates the real purpose of killing that man ‘quaint and curious war is’ showing how war breaks all the rules of civilised behaviour as in civilian life he would have probably give the man help, buy him a drink or even give him a hand out. ‘Help half a crown’

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Comparison Between Dulce Et Decorum Est & the Man He Killed. (2017, May 09). Retrieved from

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