Dulce Et Decorum Est: A Literary Analysis

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A comparison of W. B. Yeats’ The Second Coming and Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est on the theme of warfare and its consequences.

Literary works during the 20th century; especially the first half was significantly focused on the desolation and chaos brought upon by events such as the World War I & II. The significant events and magnitude of these wars not only affected people physically but also altered their mentality and ethics (Pizarro, Silver & Prause, n.d). Yeats’ The Second Coming was written in the aftermath of World War I to shed light on the physical and mental deterioration of both the people and landscape after the war which indirectly signifies the fall of human society. On the other hand, Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est highlights
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World War I was a time of great suffering and turmoil resulting in millions of deaths, loss of property and social instability. Europe was devastated after the war: 8 million soldiers died, the culture of every European nation was in jeopardy and governments struggled to maintain stability (Wilde, 2014). Wilfred Owen, a soldier himself, had experienced the dreadfulness of World War Ion a first-hand basis. His poem Dulce Et Decorum Est is an attempt to represent the helplessness and confusion which he and his comrades faced when they were trapped in a gas attack as shown in the lines “Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue” (Owen, 1920). Though the soldiers are exhausted both physically and mentally, they are forced to march on through the wreckage in the midst of a constant shower of explosives indicated by the lines “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge” and “deaf even to the hoots of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.” The exhausted and miserable states of these men also represent the
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