, Research Paper
Explication of “Dulce et Decorum Est”
In Dulce et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen explores the harsh conditions and realities of war. The burdens of war and the overwhelming weariness faced by soldiers are described in the first ten lines of the poem. Many soldiers in World War I did not have the proper training and equipment to fight a war. The long marches to battle through bad conditions wore the soldiers down and caused their reaction times to be down.
The author is expressing the weariness of the soldiers and the hardships the soldiers are undergoing during World War One. In line eleven the poem changes mood to one of urgency. He begins to talk about bombs, in this case nuclear warfare. When the bomb is dropped the soldiers begin to fumble with their helmets to protect themselves from the gas of the bomb. The helmets of this time were crude, but they did their job. The soldiers get their helmets on in time, except one. The soldier is “flound’ring like a man in fire…drowning” from exposure to the poisonous gases fired by the enemy.
The author is expressing the cruelty of war through this poem in describing the slow and painful deaths that many soldiers went through. Death by poisonous gas is slow and painful. The soldiers who died did so painfully, it was as if they were drowning. Choking slowly, like being drown, death by compression and collapsing of the lungs. This is a horrid death. The poem is from the viewpoint of a soldier watching another soldier die. The soldier is experiencing the death of the other soldier. He is describing his dreams of choking and grasping for breath, grasping for life. As he watches the other soldier die he is thinking about his own death, about the deaths of other soldiers, about the deaths and casualties of war.
The author is discussing the realities of war…war is death. The reality of it all is that war amounts to death, there has never been a war without death. The author is revealing a viewpoint towards this death from a soldier watching his fellow soldiers die. Death by suffocation is a hideous way to die. The poet is expressing his feeling towards this death. In line 15 the poet begins to describe the “smothering dreams” of following behind a body wagon picking up the dead and tossing them into the wagon. Those who were not fortunate enough to have gotten their masks on and were choked and killed by the gas.
At the time the soldier is thrown into the body wagon he is not dead. He is dying a slow and cruel death. He is coughing blood up from his dying lungs, the gas is slowly eating the lining out of his lungs. He is dying form the inside out. The innocence of the soldier is taken away through this hideous death. The suffering of the many for the good of the many- How can these acts be justified. War is a painful series of losses for a higher amount of gain. During war the value of life is forgotten.
This poem explores these aspects of the cruelty of war. The poet describes the agonizing deaths soldiers undergo during wartime. The slow pain suffered by many for the good of the country. The pain suffered in world terms by a few for the many. The poet is describing the value of giving ones life for ones country. The quote in the poem is from the Roman poet Horace means “It is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country.”
In using this quote the author is expressing his views towards war. That to die for ones country is a good and honorable thing. That death can be somehow justified by the fact that death can be justified if it is for something good. That death to help others can be a good thing although at the same time it is a bad thing. Death for ones country is an honorable death, to die to save others and make others lives better is an honorable way to die.
To die while protecting freedom is honorable. When death comes while fighting for what you believe in, it is almost justified. Although the soldiers that have dies in wartime while in battles and those killed under friendly fire are missed. They have not died in vain, they have died honorably and for honorable reasons.