Youth and War in Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem For Doomed Youth

June 27, 2019 by Essay Writer

Wilfred Owen incorporates many techniques in his poems to present his didactic views to the reader. In this case Owen attempts to teach the reader about the struggles of the youth affected by World War One allowing his concern for the youth to be developed in conjunction. By the manipulation of language techniques in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ Owen allows his concern for the youth to be developed.

In ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ Owen shows the social impact of the World War on the young men. Owen establishes this idea by describing the ‘innocent tongues’ of the war. By introducing this idea an atmosphere of global inclusion is established. This is achieved by the use of the plural noun ‘tongues’ which as a pun establishes the language variety in the war and by this referring to how the war is of global impact, affecting many nations. This is key as it represents the position of the youth. Also, the youth is established as the ‘innocent’ creating an idea of purity, relating to the idea that these young men have never experienced war and its consequences. Using this language describing the inclusion and innocence of the men Owen’s concern for all youths serving in World War One can be established.

Furthermore, in ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ Owen mentions the form of social expectations and the effects of propaganda on the society of his time. Owen does this by incorporating the idea that the youth are born to die. This idea of being born to die is supported by the statement that the ‘men die as cattle’. By the use adverb ‘as’ in the simile the young men are modified as being given the status of animals, illustrating a sense of youth’s submission as a result of social pressures and expectations. This is even further supported by the symbolic use of the noun ‘cattle,’ which with extra-poetic knowledge is known to have connotations of death as cattle are slaughtered for their meat. Using both the ideas of social pressures and being born to die an atmosphere of manipulation is created. This atmosphere of manipulation is key as it subtly represents propaganda which is a form of media which Owen works consistently through his poems to condemn. Developing the idea of social expectation and its impacts Owen again emphasizes his concern for the ‘doomed youth.’

Owen also demonstrates his concern for the youth as he speaks of their naive nature in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. Owen makes this opinion clear by stating that the boys are ‘ardent for desperate glory’. By the use of ‘ardent’ as a modifier a sense of great eagerness of the youth to enter the conflict is developed. This extract is an auxiliary to Owen’s concern as it discretely foreshadows the pain of which the boys will endure. This foreshadowing of pain, which most probably refers to the burning of the gas attacks used as a weapon, is achieved by the word ‘ardent’ deriving from the Latin word ‘ardere’ which means ‘to burn’. This idea of burning is affective in that it contrasts with the character of the youth which are modified as being ‘desperate’. By this modifier ‘desperate’ it can be found that the youth have been misinformed of their future in aiding in the war efforts. By this idea of information Owen presents to the reader his justification for his concern for the youth is further enhanced.

In addition, Owen presents his concern for the youth by illustrating the absence of great concern for the youths’ wellbeing by their families created by the expectations of patriotism. This is achieved as Owen asks the reader in ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ a vocative manner about ‘what candles may be held to speed them all?’ This is important as the direct tone and inquiring language aids in inducing and emotive response of the reader to the importance of the situation of the youth. Owen also supports his idea of division of family by using symbolic language to show this. Owen achieves this by describing the act of the families as ‘drawing-down of blinds.’ This extract is key as it directly relates to the family members of the young men, developing the idea of ignorance suffering of the boys in World War One. By this idea of division the concern of the youth of war is further detailed. By this development of the idea of ignorance of pain there is a sense of blind patriotism inflicted on the youth, which Owen is critically illustrating to describe the reasoning of his concern for the youth.

Owen’s view of the act of warfare is of heavy criticism in his poetic works and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ and ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ is no different. Using the four areas of: forced inclusion, social expectations, naive behaviour and division his condemnation of war is evident. Using his constant condemnation of war and these areas of description of the youth through both poems Owen allows the reader to know how important his concern for the youth is. As he states in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’: ‘The old lie: Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori (‘It is sweet and noble to die for your country.’)’.

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