Wilfred Owen's Poetry And The Links To Images Of Horror Year 12 Essay

1462 words - 6 pages

Wilfred Owen Essay
Throughout his body of work, Wilfred Owen powerfully conveys the horror and pity of war, confronting the reader with extraordinary images of intense human suffering. Owen exploits the medium of poetry to offer a vitriolic critique of the brutality of war, portraying the chaotic setting of WW1 and exposing the propagandist government’s betrayal of generations of young boys who were forced to endure this suffering in service of their government’s imperialist agenda. Owen’s body of work subverts the government’s representation of war as honourable and glorious, illuminating the physical, emotional and psychological degradation that the young soldiers experienced. The poem “Dulce et Decorum est” graphically depicts the brutality of war, highlighting the Government’s betrayal of the young and innocent. Similarly, “Anther for Doomed Youth”, employs the extended metaphor of a funeral to illuminate the lack of respect accorded to the fallen soldiers, further illuminating the schism between the notions of pride propagated by the government and the anguish, chaos and suffering that characterized the soldiers’ experience on the battlefield. These striking images of human suffering combined with the morose poignancy of the poetic form, enables Owen to maintain textual integrity, creating a realistic, and confronting portrayal of war equally, relevant to the WW1 and contemporary reader, still embroiled in violent global conflict.
To begin, the poem “Dulce et Decorum est” illuminates the extraordinary experiences of suffering that characterized the WW1 battlefield. This poem positions the reader to perceive the false portrayal of war perpetuated by the fraudulent governmental propaganda employed to recruit ‘boys’ to sacrifice themselves in service of the government’s imperialist political ambitions. The metaphorical reference to the men as ‘drunk with fatigue’ combined with the hyperbolic description of them as ‘all blind’ and ‘deaf even to the hoots’, illuminates the sensory deprivation the soldiers endure as they ‘trudge’ towards their metaphorical ‘distant rest’. The verb ‘trudge’ not only evokes the difficulty of the soldiers’ movement but also highlights the physical degradation that war brings. Owen’s critique gains momentum as the monotony and fatigue of opening stanza is abruptly disrupted through the use of the imperatives and truncated sentences in the line ‘Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!’, immediately evoking the chaos and urgency of the battlefield as the soldiers desperately attempt to escape the mustard gas attack. The use of present tense verbs ‘guttering, choking, drowning’ to describe the soldier drowning under the metaphorical ‘green sea’, vividly capturing the grotesque sights and sounds of suffering, illustrating the pain anguish and torment the soldier experiences as he draws his last breath. This repulsive image of extraordinary suffering serves as an antithesis to the governments’ misrepresentation of war as an honorable me...

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