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Is it Sweet and Fitting to die for your country

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  • Pages: 12
  • Word count: 2970
  • Category: Country

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War begins with everybody caught up in the atmosphere and ready to fight, which was the case during 1914. Young men would raise their heads high and fell privileged to be able to fight for their country. This patriotic fervour would spread round deceiving young innocent minds about the harsh nature of war. Men like Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’ added to all the ‘hype’ until war progressed; all that is left is death. John Scott and Wilfred Owen both share a hatred of war as revealed in the ‘Drum’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. Respectively the two poems may both be anti-war but the manner in which in which they attack war is different.

The former, being a Quaker, hated all means of war but had no experience of war as a soldier; hence how he was unable to focus on the battles on the battlefield unlike Owen. On what he can focus on is what he sees, the build up to war and the aftermath. The latter, on the other hand, hates war solely as a result of his experiences at the front line. Using this information he is able to extract the most horrific sights and use them to his advantage, for example, the gas attack. Scott portrays war as being a manipulative machine luring these men to their deaths while Owen uses the sheer horrors of war to put out his strong feelings of disgust.

The Drum’ is about the government’s scheme to lure more and more men into signing up for the war. During this period of time propaganda is a heavily used tactic that the government employs to force the men in. This propaganda would be displayed on the television and the radio and its main objective is to give the men no option to escape. The final message conveyed in ‘The Drum’ is how the government’s attempt to cover up the atrociousness and how horrendous the reality of war has on these innocent lives. Dulce et Decorum est’ is just point after point filled with horrific details of war to get the best effect of the poem.

The title ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ meaning ‘it is sweet and proper to die for your country’ is the complete antithesis of the reality of war; instead he is opposed to all those in favour of war and mocks them with bitter ironic satire. ‘Hate’ emotionally begins Scott’s poem clearly indicating his strong feelings towards war. A sharp ‘d’ and hissy ‘s’ emphasize the drums unpleasant sound. Round and round’ symbolize the persistent sound giving a feel of the drum being a trap acting as the bait drawing the soldiers in.

‘Thoughtless’ portrays the perceptions of the soldiers as they don’t care what the consequences of war and how it can turn life to death in seconds. ‘Lures’, again emphasizing how vulnerable the soldiers are; as they think that war will just greet them with fame and how they will walk away from it as a hero. ‘Tawdry lace’ and ‘glittering arms’, continues the idea of the drum team being almost a form of prostitute by giving the soldiers what they want which is the uniform and the weapons. Ambitions voice’ is the governments theory that every man must put their country first no matter what the circumstances; this is planted into the soldiers head with the drum beat constantly reminding them what they must do.

‘Commands’ personifies the fact they are being told exactly what to do. ‘Fight and fall in foreign lands’, use of alliteration with a soft ‘f’, makes it seem as if death is not a big deal and is one thing that just happens. This would have been the thought of the soldiers before the war as if they may not return but they will all be heroes and that’s all that counts. Fall’ is also euphuism for death just making it seem gentler and holly. Repeating the start of stanza two links stanza one and stanza two together, maybe symbolizing that war can start the same but after that it’s unpredictable. On the other hand it could symbolize the life of the recruiting team and how they do the same thing over and over again bringing more men in. ‘To me’, again emphasizing how emotional he is including personal thoughts. The effect of this is to add more sympathy to the poem making it seem more real with the impact it has on everyone drawn into war.

Ravaged plains’, he now shatters all illusions that war was going to be a peaceful thing that just moves on. The effect of contrasting to stanza one is that it causes a sudden change in atmosphere from an exciting mood to a dull tormenting mood which can act as a wake up call to those still bewildered about war. Another way he has done this is to suddenly dispose of all the light sounding words that were used in stanza one such as glittering and replaced them with words such as ravaged and mangled which automatically helps to change the mood. Burning towns’ portrays the harsh nature of war and is using the technique mentioned above, the sheer horror.

This creates a detailed picture in the readers mind and puts them in the soldier’s shoe which adds to the horror factor. ‘Mangled limbs’, the image of the mutilated bodies portrays how these men die but in the most painful way possible which is the complete antithesis to stanza one where it mentions dying to be an honour but to die in this way is crueller than death itself. ‘Widows tears and orphan’s moans’, demonstrates the brutality of war and how it affects everyone one not just the soldiers.

This line uses the empathy factor to enhance its overall effect of those dramatically weakened and suffering from the deaths caused by war. ‘The catalogue of human woes’, the metaphor puts the amount of men dying into perspective. The effect of the metaphor is to give the reader something to relate to on the amount of men dying and the ‘catalogue’ suggests that men after men are dying. This poem re-alliterates how the minds hidden behind the glamour of war can be so far from its reality. ‘Bent doubled’, automatically alerts the reader that this poem is not as it seems being a complete contrast to its title.

Compared to John Scott ‘The Drum’ who begins with the fantasy that lies in the soldiers minds Wilfred Owen jumps straight in displaying the harsh position the soldiers are in. ‘Like old beggars’, the use of this simile is to gives us something to compare it them to so it creates a more detailed impression of the men. In this case the men are associated to beggars, which give a feel of them being worthless and distraught.

This is the complete antithesis to stanza one ‘The Drum’ which portrays the men as being proud and wearing new uniform ‘tawdry lace’. Knock-kneed’, emphasizes how much they are struggling, even to stand up as they are crippled. The sharp ‘n’ in ‘knock-kneed’ represents the pain they are in. ‘Coughing like old hags’, another simile to make it easier to create an image in the readers mind and portray the continued image of the soldiers being weak and shattered. ‘Cursed’, symbolizing that they are not enjoying this situation that they are in and how much a contrast this is compared to stanza one of ‘The Drum’ where they are willing to go freely.

In stanza one of ‘The Drum’ it is introduced with a strong opening but then calms down in order to portray the glamour but in ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ the whole of stanza one is filled with strong harsh words such as ‘Bent-double’ and ‘old beggars’. With the first stanza of ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ short these words come of the page and have its maximum impact on the readers by disgusting them. ‘Haunting flares’, highlights they can not escape both on the battle field and in their mind.

This links with the same idea used by Scott of war being a trap and how they can not flee. Men marched asleep’, the metaphor ‘men marched asleep’ portrays how senseless these men are and how little control they have over their actions. The effect of this is it emphasizes how the men have no choice and they can not control what they do which goes against war as it shows what war can do to people by taking their soul away. ‘Limped’, again points out the condition of the men links back to stanza one. The impact of mentioning the condition of the men is to make sure the image of the men is remembered throughout the poem. All blind’, relates back to point about them being senseless and having no control of their actions.

‘Drunk with fatigue’, the metaphor ‘drunk with fatigue’ gives the reader a comparison to the soldiers to make clear the condition the men are in. The poem so far has been loaded with point after point which goes against war, the effect it has makes out the soldiers to have problem after problem making war seem the worst scenarios all attack the men at once. ‘Ecstasy of fumbling’, demonstrates how unprepared they are and how they panic making them seem as simple prey for the gas to devour.

Clumsy helmets’, in addition to the previous point of the soldiers being unprepared, to make matters worse the equipment that they are supplied with is faulty. At this point the attention spreads over to the government and puts them in the blame as shame falls on them. Not only are they using these soldiers to fight a battle which is not theirs to fight but left them there with nothing to protect them with, waiting as sitting targets. Wilfred Owen is now attacking those who encourage war. ‘Yelling out’, adds to the chaotic feel that everything has gone wrong and now the soldiers suffer for the government’s mistakes.

Flound’ring like a man in fire’, Wilfred Owen takes the opportunity to portray war as a device made to inflict suffering upon innocent lives. As this man suffers more and more pain until he can handle no more leaving him one option that is death. The main aspect of this is that Owen is able to manipulate this situation and illustrate the options war can give a man, die a slow and painful death or commit suicide. ‘Under a green sea’, exemplifies the conditions brought onto the battle field after the gas attack.

The metaphor helps to create a meticulous image of how the soldiers will fair against the gas. The image created is of the soldiers being a minute force going up against a colossal ocean of gas making them seem spotless through the dominating gas. ‘Before my helpless sight’, displays how he is powerless to do anything as if war can be started off by man but after that it’s uncontrollable and takes life and death into it’s own account. He uses sympathy and guilt to make this part of his appeal work in the best possible way to create the maximum effect.

We as the reader feel sympathetic as the life of the soldier is beyond our reach. ‘He plunges at me’, it is the soldier’s last hope as he dives for a glimmer hope. The use of this is to make the poem as horrific as possible to put as many people of as possible and by describing someone who is dying jump for help but nothing can save him. ‘Guttering’, the soldier’s lungs fill with gas and he tries to release this by breathing out but he is unable to take air back in as he struggles to clear his airways.

‘Choking’, as he fails to clear the gas a clot begins to form and he tries to gasp for air. Drowning’, he can no longer breathe and slowly sinks towards the ground as if he were drowning. Owen puts these three words together to show the sequence in which the soldier dies; it emphasizes the amount of pain the soldier is in as he can overcome one problem but is then faced with another problem. ‘Watch the white eyes withering in his face’, the long sound in the alliteration of the ‘w’ echoes the long pain and suffering the soldier is put through. Another assumption could be the wobbling ‘w’ recreating the movement of the soldier’s eyes.

The detail in which the poet has described the rotting body is horrendous and surly puts any man of war. ‘His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin’, the use of this simile helps to describe a picture of how this man’s face is. A devil loves sin but one with no sin completely goes against what a devil is and is one with no meaning. If this man is like a devil sick of sin he must have no meaning and goes against what he is. ‘If you could hear’, in order to get the whole aspect of the man dying we can now hear him.

This adds to the horror this man is already going through. Obscene as Cancer’, emphasizes use a simile that what this man has is a disgusting disease which is slowly killing him from the inside out. ‘Bitter as the cud’, illustrates using a simile explains how revolting this man looks now. ‘Incurable sores on innocent tongues’, the incurable sores are the effect of putting words in people’s mouth and the innocent tongues are the soldiers. ‘My friend’, lining back to the title and uses bitter satire again. ‘You would not tell with such high zest’, Wilfred Owen now goes into the response the poem gets.

By this point Wilfred Owen has finished the poem of with the most shocking scenes in the life of the soldier by leaving it to the end the distinct images created with stick in the readers mind. ‘The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori’, underlining that dying for your country is not the right thing to do. Then by starting and ending with the same words emphasizes he is now complete. ‘The Drum’ consists of a regular beat throughout the poem this could symbolize the sounds made by the beating of the parading drum as it parades round and round.

As the repeated beat is repeated throughout maybe to imitate the controlling way it draws the men in acting as the bait. During ‘The Drum’ most lines consist of rhyming couplets which could stand for the drum moving on through engulfing men and then starting the cycle again. The regular line lengths until the end of each stanza could symbolize how regular war starts off and unfolds but then the ending being different could portray how the outcome of war is unpredictable.

Another interpretation could possibly be the how the luring the drum does is all common factor and determines the path of the men but the fate of the men is undetermined. The regular beat throughout the poem could symbolize how dead bodies hit the floor at regular intervals. During stanza one of ‘The Drum’ it ends with light sounding words such as ‘Fight and fall in foreign lands’ but at the start of stanza two it begins heavy using words such as ‘Discordant sound’ this emphasizes the contrast from fantasy to reality.

On line four – seven ‘And’ is repeated at the start of each line perhaps to enhance the anger of the reader after the disgust of the wreckage but by adding ‘and’ it makes it seem like more has happened. ‘Plains’ and ‘Swains’ the assonance in the ‘A’ portrays the length of destruction in order to create a more chaotic feel. ‘Groans’ and ‘Moans’ the assonance in the ‘o’ highlight the lengthy pain and suffering. ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ has four sections each one getting longer this could symbolize that war may start of gentle but as it progresses it becomes worse and worse.

Rhymes such as such as ‘Sacks’ and ‘Backs’, are heavy words which possibly highlight the burden carried by the soldiers. ‘Sludge’ and ‘Trudge’ emphasize how slowly they are moving. The slowness of the first two sections are contrasted at the start of section three where the tempo increases with short sharp words, ‘Gas! Gas! ‘. The effect of this change in tempo makes the poem more interesting bringing it back to life after the early stages clearly stating that these men were as good as a dead.

The effect that I got from ‘The drum’ was that it was a manipulative machine that drew innocent soldiers to their death. The appeal to put war off to me was not as strong as the one that I got from ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ which filled me with disgust and put me off war. ‘The Drum’ was a straight forward comparison to contrast with war which meant that all the effect had come from the changes in contrast. On the other hand Wilfred Owen has taken a shocking scene that he may have picked up during his war career and then creates a picture which brings disgust to all its readers.

John Scott was able to create a lot of effect form sound to make his piece seem the most effective such as long sounds ‘Groans’ and ‘Moans’ to create the dying effect. Whereas Owen pictures the most detailed scenes and compares the dying and suffering of the man to something any body would fear which is the ‘Cancer’. Scott’s poem flows through linking one point to the next but ‘Owens’ is just fact after fact building up the horrendous picture but then links back to keep the thought fresh. On the whole I felt that Wilfred Owens’s poem was more appealing to me as it had more action and brought disgust which had a great effect on me.

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