Wilfred Owen (Dulce and Mental Cases)

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Discuss how Owen’s perspective on human conflict is conveyed in his poetry. Wilfred Owen’s personal experience at war is reflected in his poetry, depicting the brutality of war and conflict. He portrays his perspective about human conflicts in his poetry and effectively conveys the truth about the agony of war in his war poems, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ (Dulce) and ‘Mental Cases’. To portray his attitudes towards war, Owen uses a diversity of poetic devices to shock and emotionally stir his readers. As a semi-autobiographical recount, Owen criticises the suffering and psychological scarring of soldiers in ‘Mental Cases’. He depicts the aftermath and trauma experienced by soldiers through anecdotal experience. He begins the poem with a bombardment of rhetorical questions, ‘Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?’ to create an interrogative tone which demand an explanation regarding why the soldiers have been so tortured with misery. He further portrays their dehumanised state through religious diction, ‘Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows’ to create a visual of soldiers rocking back and forth, trying to shake off their mental torment. This image is enhanced in the metaphorical hellish existence, ‘purgatory shadows’ to exemplify their eternal suffering. He portrays the soldiers losing their bodily functions and resembling animals in the rhetorical simile ‘baring teeth that leers like skulls wicked?’ This allows Owen to effectively show the audience the agony of war. He portrays the living hell of war that these soldiers relive day after day through personification,’ – these are men whose minds the dead have ravished. Their torment is reinforced in the juxtaposition, ‘treading blood from lungs that had once loved laughter’ to convey an image of these soldiers walking over decapitated corpses to emphasise the horror while humanising the dead men that ‘loved
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