How the Poems "Mental Cases" and "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen Offer New Understandings of the Experiences of War. Essay

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The poems of Wilfred Owen have offered the responder a new understanding of the experiences of war, specifically concerning the horrors of modern warfare. Owen skilfully employs a range of poetic techniques, such as apostrophe and mimesis to convey a sense of actual experience and empathy, which is particularly evident in his poems ‘Mental Cases’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. Owen utilises a trochaic rhythm and feminine line endings in ‘Mental Cases’ to create a diminishing effect and a sense of sadness and negativity as he describes a group of ‘men whose minds the dead have ravished’. ‘Who are these?’ and ‘Who these hellish?’ Owen asks as he observes the men, dehumanising them with an allusion to hell. The fact that an observer cannot recognise this group as members of their own species further dehumanises the soldiers and shows the reader just how much that war has impacted on these men, both physically and mentally. ‘Set-smiling corpses’ shows us a clever wordplay used by Owen, in that smiling has normally positive connotations but Owen has troped the image into one of negativity, to one of death and despair. These men are not smiling due to happiness, rather madness and death. Wordplay is also utilised in the word ‘rucked’. This gives us a picture of a footy match, but in reality there is a horrific image to behold - one of dead bodies piled in heaps. The density of ‘ck’ sounds around this image amplifies and emphasises the packing of dead bodies so densely that these men cannot extricate the horror of what they have witnessed from their minds. Owen employs powerful sensory imagery such as ‘their eyeballs shrink tormented’ to create a sense of immediacy and reality to the reader. These men are so horrified by the atrocities they have witnessed that their organ of sight has felt the need to shrink away from the world. Use of simile and reiteration helps to

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