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British Poetry Essay

The comparison and contrast of Wilfred Owen’s and Rupert Brooke’s approaches to the subject of war The Soldier by Rupert Brooke and Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen were both written during world war one. War and death are the themes of both poems but they are written from different perspectives. The two poets take different approaches in portraying the effect that war has on the people involved. The Soldier by Rupert Brooke idealises and glorifies war while Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen highlights the horror and cruelty of war.

Wilfred Owen gives the reader the impression that war is horrible and that dying for one’s country is not all the glory and honour that it seems, and that in reality, dying in a war, no matter for what cause, can be both painful and full of suffering, while Rupert Brooke, on the other hand, gives the reader the impression that dying in war for one’s country, is very honourable, and glorious. In ‘Soldier’, Brooke expresses his love for England and how he believes it is right to fight and die for his country.

However, Brooke never knew what war was like, as he died in 1915. Therefore, his poem is very idealistic. This is expressed when he writes, “… there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England”. Here, he sees the English soldiers’ bodies as parts of England. If they die on foreign soil, that land will be forever part of England because their soul remains there along with their values and love for England. Brooke does not describe the horrible nature of death in war and only tells how the soldier honors England by dying while defending the nation.

He evokes positive feelings toward the war and describes optimistically the soldiers’ thoughts once the war has finished by using words like “happy dreams” and “laughter” By contrast, Wilfred Owen uses irony to portray war not as a glorious duty but as a barbaric massacre. “Dulce et decorum est/ pro patri mori” which mean: “it is sweet and honorable to die for one‘s country”. He considers this a lie for most soldiers after they see and live the reality of the war as soldiers. War can not be called sweet but horrible. Owen opposes to the idea of fighting in a war. Wilfred Owen focuses on the tragedy of war and the conditions of the soldiers.

For example, he depicts the soldiers as “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. Generally, one thinks of a soldier as a man full of strength, who looks brave with his uniform and marches confidently to war. In contrast, Owen tries to make the soldiers look like penniless men and gives a sense of their non-glorified reality. Their uniforms, their psychological and physical health are destroyed. That shows how the battle has severely damaged the spirits of the soldiers. As can be easily seen, Brooke’s poem supports fighting for one’s country and patriotism, whereas Owen’s poem questions the reasons for fighting a war.


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