Wilfred Owen’s poem titled “Dulce et Decorum Est” employs a number of similes (that is, comparisons that use the words “like” or “as”). One might argue that these similes, as the poem proceeds, become increasingly harsh and disturbing. Consider, for instance, the following evidence:
- In line 1, soldiers in World War I are said to be “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” Here the simile is unpleasant, since a beggar is poor and without food and often has to carry all of his worldly possessions in a sack tossed over his shoulder. However, even an “old beggar” may still be relatively healthy.
- In line 2, another simile is used to describe the soldiers as “coughing like hags.” Here the simile seems more intense and disturbing than the first one. To be “coughing” implies that one is sick or at least physically troubled – that one is having trouble breathing. In this sense, the second simile implies a condition even worse than the condition implied by the...
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