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To Die for One’s Country Essay

Is dying for one’s country a sweet and right thing? Many people will fight both ways for that statement. In the poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” Wilfred Owen describes his point of view in a truthful and painful way. His captivating description of the war pulls the reader on a journey of discovering Owen’s true feelings: anger and resentment. Owen’s poem shows his impression of war using devices such as similes, imagery, and tone. Similes in this poem create an effective view on Owen’s impression of war. The use of comparing soldiers to “old beggars” (1) and “hags” (2) is a powerful example. Soldiers are usually seen as strong and handsome men, while Owen’s description shows them as truly being crippled and old-like in war. Additionally, the simile used with, “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” (20) is another great example of Owen’s impression of war. If the devil was ever actually sick of sin, it would be like he was questioning everything that his life is about.

If a soldier’s face is like this, he may be thinking the same way. Maybe war, like sin to the devil, isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Owen’s use of imagery is a compelling element in this poem. He paints a haunting image of exhaustion and death. When reading that the soldiers were “drunk with fatigue” (7), one can almost see the soldiers being tired and staggering through the mud. Owen also uses the words, “I saw him drowning” (14) to represent that he saw the man dying. The soldier had blood “gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs” (22), literally meaning that he was coughing and choking on his own blood. Death, from a soldier’s perspective, is what Owen is trying to show readers.

All these examples give a specific impression of war being a disturbing and depressing image. The speaker’s tone throughout the poem is that of an angry impression of war. The diction used throughout the poem can be one example of this. By using specific words in the statement, “If in some smothering dreams . . . Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud / Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues” (17, 23-24) the speaker presents a horrifying experience. This experience is one that none should have to see, and it is spoken with anger. In addition to diction, phrasing is another important example of the tone in this poem.

Owen sums up the poem, using the speaker, by going against telling children “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori” (27-28). This phrase means that dying for one’s country is not a sweet and beautiful thing and it should not be taught to all children. This is an obvious use of anger shown against the glorification of war. By using the literary devices of similes, imagery, and tone in his poem, Wilfred Owen successfully shows his impression of war. “Dulce et Decorum Est” is a real and tragic interpretation from a soldier’s point of view. From the very beginning of the poem, the reader feels the exhaustion. By the end of it, one feels the anger and resentment of Owen. So after reading this poem many more may also say that it is not a sweet and right thing to die for one’s country.


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