Wilfred Owen Essay
Owen reflects on the price paid by soldiers during wartime as he shows how the war takes away the soldiers lives. Owen describes the soldiers as being “Bent double like old beggars” this shows the price paid by soldiers as war has aged them. Owen then goes on to describe the soldiers as hags and wearing sacks. Instead of wearing smart uniforms they are now dressed like beggars in sacks. This again shows the price paid.
In both Exposure and Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen uses strong verbs. In Dulce et Decorum Est Owen describes the victim of the gas attack as drowning in the poisonous gas, the quote “He plunges at me guttering, choking, drowning.” The effect of the word guttering is that it refers to the sound made by the choking man as he died; like the gurgling of water down a pipe.
When Owen says “bitter as the cud” it relates to the poem Anthem for a Doomed Youth, “those who die as cattle” when the soldiers are compared to cattle. The soldiers may also have been compared to animals when he describes the soldiers and being “Blood-shod” Horses are usually described as being shod.
On one hand ‘Exposure’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ are quite similar as they both show how the war attacks the soldiers. In ‘Exposure’ the soldiers are attacked by the weather as they sit in the trenches waiting for something to happen. However in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ Owen is describing a soldier as the victim of a gas attack. These are similar because Owen shows the way the war affects the soldiers and the price they pay, in Exposure the weather is related to the price soldiers pay and Owen uses rhetorical questions to show the soldiers as uncertain and questioning their lives. In Dulce et Decorum Est, Owen describes how the war is against them and the enemies attack them, this is similar to exposure as the weather is attacking them and going against them.
The two poems contrast each other because they have different rhyming schemes. Dulce et Decorum Est has the rhyming scheme ABABCDCD, this means the lines rhyme alternately, the effect of this is that it makes the poem seem more controlled and continuous. However when written out on paper the poem looks chaotic and messy. This reflects the soldier’s lives whilst away at war and shows the price they pay at the chaos their lives have become. The rhyming structure also relates to the soldiers lives and has a repetitive rhyme which reflects the repeated one-two step on the long march back to the trenches. The structure also reflects what the poem is about and the gas attack that happens. In contrast Exposure is rigidly structured in length of the stanzas and rhyming pattern, also with the repeated last lines. This reflects the monotonous repetitive nature of the war, they do the same day after day “but nothing happens.” Exposure has a half-rhyme of ABBA, this suggests that not everything in the war was clear. The repetitive rigid rhyming structure connects to the soldiers days and how war never ends. This shows the price soldiers pay. Compared to Dulce et Decorum Est it is very different in the structure as Dulce is very messy and un-authoritative.