In "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, how does simile, hyperbole and words with negative connotations help to instill the poem's overall theme?I am writing a paper on this and I need help with...

In "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, how does simile, hyperbole and words with negative connotations help to instill the poem's overall theme?

I am writing a paper on this and I need help with my conclusion.

Asked on by ramos21

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This excellent war poem uses a number of different examples of figurative language very effectively to convey its message about the brutality of war. There are certainly plenty of examples for you to focus on, so I will pick out a few of my favourites.

The very first line of the poem establishes a clear picture of the soldiers. However, they are not described as glorious in their uniform and looking smart and happy to fight for their country. On the contrary:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks...

Note how this simile almost dehumanises the soldiers, describing them as aged beggars with their spines bent over. Also, they are described as being "under sacks" - war has reduced them to a state of physical collapse, ageing them prematurely and sapping their youth and strength. This image is one that is strengthened in the rest of this first shocking stanza. Note how hyperbole is used:

All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue...

The soldiers are so shocked by the war and what they have seen and they are so exhausted that it is as if they are all lame and all blind - they are not able to see or focus on anything. Note the use of the metaphor "Drunk with fatigue" which compares them to being drunk because they are so exhausted they are not able to control their bodies, just like someone who is drunk on alcohol.

These are just some examples, but there are plenty more. You will want to focus on how the figurative language dehumanises and makes the soldiers less than human - it is through such techniques that Owen shows the horror of war.

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