War Perspectives: Owen's Reality vs. Brooke's Romanticism in Poetry

Categories: Dulce Et Decorum Est

Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' and Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier' both delve into the theme of war but approach it in starkly different ways. 'Dulce et Decorum est' exposes the bitter reality of war, while 'The Soldier' romanticizes and glorifies the idea of sacrificing one's life for their country. This essay will delve into the distinct characteristics of each poem, exploring the vivid imagery, language techniques, and underlying messages they convey.

'Dulce et Decorum est': Unveiling the Harsh Realities

The title of Owen's poem, presented in Latin, initially suggests the honor associated with dying for one's country.

However, Owen aptly refers to it as "The old Lie," indicating that the glorification of such sacrifice is a misleading narrative that has persisted through centuries. By employing Latin, the language of ancient civilizations, Owen adds a layer of historical weight, suggesting that this lie has been perpetuated over time.

Throughout the first stanza, Owen masterfully employs similes to depict the grim experiences of soldiers in war.

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The description of soldiers "like beggars under sacks" not only emphasizes their wretched state but also conveys the restrictive movement they endure. Phrases like "men marched asleep" and "drunk with fatigue" paint a graphic scene of exhaustion and hardship, inviting readers to empathize with the soldiers' plight.

The second stanza intensifies the chaos with the sudden cry of "Gas! GAS! Quick boys!" The word "fumbling" captures the panic and confusion among the soldiers. Owen's choice of words, such as "floundering like a man in fire or lime," creates a vivid image of the agonizing death caused by gas warfare.

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The metaphorical drowning "under a green sea" evokes the suffocating and relentless nature of the gas attack.

In the final stanza, the perspective shifts from the first person to the third person, providing a more graphic depiction of the aftermath. The use of metaphors like "his hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin" and "obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud" adds a layer of horror and truth to the narrative. Owen's incorporation of onomatopoeic elements, such as 'g,' 'c,' and hissing 's,' enhances the harshness of the imagery and intensifies the impact on the reader.

'The Soldier': Romanticizing Sacrifice for Country

Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier' takes a different approach, portraying a romanticized view of sacrificing one's life for the country. Written at the onset of the war, the poem aims to inspire young men to enlist by presenting an idealized image of a soldier. Unlike 'Dulce et Decorum est,' this poem is a sonnet and addresses England as a timeless, wonderful land.

In the first stanza, Brooke creates a positive, almost idyllic image of England as a land blessed by rivers and sunlight. The repetition of the term "England" and the rhythmic flow of the language emphasize the poet's deep connection and love for his homeland. The speaker imagines that if he dies, a part of him will forever be England.

The second stanza continues to express the purity of the speaker's love for England, claiming that it has 'shed all evil away' and become 'a pulse in the eternal mind.' The last four lines emphasize the idea of giving something back to England through the act of sacrifice, portraying death as a peaceful reunion with the homeland under an English heaven.

Comparative Analysis and Conclusion

While both poems explore the theme of war, they do so in contrasting ways. 'Dulce et Decorum est' unveils the harsh realities of war, condemning the romanticized notion of dying for one's country. In contrast, 'The Soldier' idealizes and glorifies this sacrifice, using simple language and patriotic imagery to appeal to a broad audience.

Ultimately, 'Dulce et Decorum est' stands out for its emotional depth and powerful portrayal of the horrors of war. Owen's use of vivid imagery, effective similes, and a shifting perspective from the first to the third person contributes to a poignant narrative that challenges the traditional glorification of war.

In conclusion, both poems offer unique perspectives on war, with Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' providing a critical and realistic examination, while Brooke's 'The Soldier' presents a more optimistic and patriotic view. The choice between these divergent portrayals depends on the reader's interpretation and personal stance on the complexities of war.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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War Perspectives: Owen's Reality vs. Brooke's Romanticism in Poetry. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/poems-the-soldier-and-dulce-et-decorum-est-essay

War Perspectives: Owen's Reality vs. Brooke's Romanticism in Poetry essay
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