Dulce Et Decorum Est Explication of Dulce et Decorum Est In his poem exhibiting the gruesome imagery of World War I, Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen conveys his strongly anti-war sentiments to the reader. Through the irony found in the ending, horrific imagery, and the feeling of surrealism woven into the poem, Owen forces the reader to experience the war, and therefore feel almost as decisively about it as he does. Owen applies the rhetorical situation, sensory imagery, and figurative language to contribute to the power and anti-war sentiment of the poem. The rhetorical situation in the poem helps to make the reader accept the poems message by showing that the speaker may be trusted to be knowledgeable about the subject at hand. The poem would be far less effective had the speaker not personally experienced the vicious and cruel world war provides.
Another effective element of the rhetorical situation is that the audience addressed in the poem is the person who would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory/ The old lie (25-27) if he himself had been to war. The speaker has been robbed by the deceitful notion of the sweetness of war; childhood and innocence are no longer fathomable. Essentially, the poem becomes an accusation and the reader, like a bell, can clearly hear bitterness in the speaker’s voice for having been deceived so greatly. Owen uses paradoxical sensory imagery to communicate his early illusions of war’s heroic glory soon dissolving into a hellish reality. The speaker in the poem must distance himself from the pain and suffering before his eyes, and so he turns away from the haunting flares (3).
The phrase blood shod (6) early in the poem is an example of the contradictory truths of war- soldier’s boots are made to protect his feet from pain and injury. In this instance, however, Owen compares the feeling of protection with the appalling image of bloody pain to express the irony and senselessness in war. With gas shells dropping softly behind (8), the word softly appeals in a positive manner to our tactile and auditory senses, yet this is being said about lethal weapons. In this image, Owen again presents an unexpected and paradoxical picture of war. The speaker, emphasizing that he is behind misty panes (13) as he witnesses the dramatic and grotesque death of another soldier, spares no detail, leaving the reader to deal with sudden, shocking emotions summoned in response to the sensory horror.
The figurative language in the poem allows the reader to share in the speaker’s sense of open-mouthed wonder at the situation. Owen states that Men marched asleep (5): a virtual impossibility, the metaphor represents the complete exhaustion endured by the soldiers. The green sea (14) of gas in which the soldier is drowning (14) depicts the dreamlike circumstances as the speaker perceived them- similar to the alseep metaphor, where only in an alternative reality state would the atrocities of war be tolerable. The incurable sores on innocent tongues (24) declare the absurdity and injustice of war. Owens figurative language highlights the complete irrationality of war with an austerity that gives the poem much of its irrefutable power. Owen clearly communicates his aversion to war through the use of the rhetorical situation, sensory imagery, and figurative language in his poem. Not only does he covey his own feelings through the speaker, but he also succeeds in inspiring similar feelings in his readers by forcing them to encounter the horror of war.
Through all of the above devices, Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est conveys its purpose to the reader in a thunderous and powerful voice. Bibliography none necessary Poetry Essays.