At one point they were young, fit men, and now they are worn and weak. Owen’s disgust for the state of the exhausted soldiers is effectively shown through his choice of description in this extract. The sheer exhaustion of the soldiers after war is strongly shown through Owen’s word choice. “Men marched asleep.” This portrays a zombielike physique, sluggishly moving slowly and heavily. Owen’s choice of words suggests how drained and weary the soldiers have become.
Mental Cases was written to demonstrate the mental consequences of war on participating soldiers in World War I. The subjects of this poem are the inmates in a military hospital. The poem displays a part of the war that to some civilians can be considered worse than losing your life, losing your mind due to shellshock. Owen describes how they are now forced to re-live the terrible acts that they have witnessed on the battlefield. The mood of the poem is one of fury, this is shown throughout the poem with the use of imagery.
In the first stanza, Owen presents the idea that the personal struggles faced every moment on the front line are extremely underestimated, immeasurably terrifying and “obscene”. It seems more realistic when the story is told from a first person narrative; it allows us, the readers, to imagine what it would feel like if “we” were in the trenches and fighting on the front line. That understanding makes us realise the cruel situation that was, for them, an everyday occurrence from which they had no escape. The determination of the soldiers that they “limped on” even when they were “asleep”, “had lost their boots”, were “lame”, “blind”, “drunk with fatigue” and “deaf” to their “distant rest” makes it almost seem as if they were unbreakable; their defiance against anything thrown in their path was god-like and shows an unwavering sense of honour, as they “marched” and “cursed through”, for the fate of all those left at home. The distant rest could represent the end of the war, so far out of their sight, or the release of an untimely death.
In the first line, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks”, shows us that the troops are so tired that they look like old beggars, slouching from being so drowsy. Another smile the writer demonstrates is, "His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin," which I believe suggests that his face is bleeding and covered with red blood which represents the devils color. A strong metaphor that the writer uses is in line 24, “Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,” This emphasizes that these troops will never forget the traumatic experiences they endured while being at war. Through the use of Wilfred Owens language in this poem we can get drawn to the poem and have a sense of feeling of what is happening to these troops and have empathy towards them. The imagery which is used in this poem is also used to show the tone and theme.
Owen compares soldiers fighting in war to sick old men because it shows that soldiers are like outcasts from society. At the top left of the poster, the image shown represents the difficulty and the terrible physical outcomes, soldiers found travelling on ground particularly in sludges as Wilfred Owen states in the first stanza: “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge” The use of the word Knock-kneed is alliteration for emphasis, a hard, staccato sound to echo the harsh mood of these lines and soldier’s misery. It stresses echo the brutality of the soldiers’ destruction, their transformation from healthy young men into ‘beggars’ and ‘hags’. The use of the word coughing compares men to sick women, showing how they are unrecognisable; they have lost their masculinity, youth, health and therefore are now deemed to be outcast’s within the society. The word sludge is onomatopoeia to imply how heavy and difficult the ground is to cross for soldiers.
Dulce Et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen Wilfred Owen’s poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est is a tendentious poem about the harsh realities of World War I; throughout his poems he shows his hatred for the Generals and commanding officers. In this poem he describes his memories of physical horror, and how many soldiers had been mislead about the “glory” of war. It should also be noted that this poem is in first person, and Owen is recalling the event, also the event in just one moment of time. The poem is split into four different stanzas, in the first stanza he shows how weak the soldiers were due to the horrific effects of the war. In the first line he starts off by using a hyperbole to show how badly the soldiers were affected: like old beggars under sacks, this shows that even though these men were supposed to be the ‘cream of the crop’ so to speak, they were being compared to beggars under sacks.
This is good word choice because it shows us how the men are suffering and that they are tired. Also “coughing like hags” shows us that the soldiers look ill and as old as a hag who is an old, dirty witch, but they are really young men. In Verse one there is a good simile which also describes the soldiers: “Bent double like old beggars under sacks.” This is a good simile because it emphasises the heavy equipment they are carrying and “beggars” suggests how dirty and unhealthy the soldiers are. Secondly as well as making such comparisons, Owen’s effective word choice strengthen the impact of the poem on the reader. At the start of this poem the poet uses the word “Trudge”.
"Knock-kneed" is a condition that makes knees hit together when walking. Owen employed this in his poem to show the reader how tired the soldiers were. They could not stand up and walk straight because they had already "cursed through sludge" for many miles. He also utilized the phrase "blood shod", which is when a horseshoe gets put on too hard and the horse's hoofs start to bleed. This exhibited the physical pain that the soldiers were going through.
In Dulce Et Decorum Est the soldiers are shown as run down and injured. They are described as ‘old beggars under sacks’ and this tell us they are slow because they are weighed down under all the equipment. It could also signify that all the emotional strain of war has physically made them weaker and slower. It also describes them as ‘marching asleep’; this could mean that they have been doing this for so long that they Can now do it with their eyes closed. Owen says as well that they are ‘drunk with fatigue’.
There were also a lot of gas attacks. Owen really tries to get the reader to understand how bad it was by using horrid imaginary by telling us how tired the soldiers were by writing ‘Men march asleep’ and ‘Drunk with fatigue’ and of his description of watching a soldier dying because he couldn’t get his gas mask on in time of a gas attack. Owen poem is so descriptive that when reading it, you can imagine it in your mind playing like a film whilst reading it. The poem begins with the simile ‘Bent double like old sacks, knock-kneed coughing like hags’ we imagine the soldiers walking slowly like the elderly due to tiredness, and bent double due to all the equipment that they carried at the time with the sounds of five-nines exploding around them. ‘Coughing like hags’ the conditions was not great in the trenches in World War 1, it was full of diseases and the weather conditions would make fighting a great deal harder.