Wilfred Owen engages a modern audience because his ideas are still appropriate for a necessary understanding of the reality of war. In the poems “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, “Mental Cases” and “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, Owen draws attention to the trauma of war and gives voice to the marginalized shell-shocked soldiers. He does this through the use of manipulative techniques and devices to successfully communicate the brutality of war.
“Mental Cases” by Wilfred Owen offers a unique insight into the psychological warfare of the ordinary soldier. It highlights the sensitive, intelligent observations of a mind empathetic to the soldier’s dilemma. Owen wants the reader to experience the same exposure to carnage, so that their empathy is with these men, not to see them as cowards. This is given by the metaphor “sloughs of flesh” and personification “flying muscles”. This creates a terrible scene and gives a clear ...view middle of the document...
Owens concerns are the pity and waste of war as well as families back home, bringing resolution to their lives. Through the use of powerful adjectives, rhetorical questions and repetition, Owen positions us to realise how brutal, youth were treated at war, how WW1 killed and injured so many young men, and also for us to realise how much potential was lost for such an insignificant, resolvable issue. This is supported by the rhetorical question “What passing bells for these who die as cattle?” This draws the reader and creates a sarcastic tone. Owen highlights the loss of identity amongst young men, to a degree that they were treated as animals. This is supported by “The stuttering rifles rapid rattle can patter out their hasty orisons”, a mix of noisy onomatopoeia and alliteration, depict guns and rifles; the only sounds accompanying soldiers to their death.
A third poem by Wilfred Owen, “Dulce Et Decorum Est” provides a very dramatic and memorable description of the psychological and physical horrors that war brings out. Similarly to his other poetry, this is a passionate expression of outrage in voice of the marginalized soldier. Owen uses powerful metaphors and similes to convey a strong warning about the nature of war. The clever use of the simile “his hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” allows Owen to provoke the sympathy of the responder as they witness the monstrous nature of such a death. Owen positions us to perceive visions of the horror of conflict. Owens marginalized voice presents the sickening experiences of gas warfare in the personification of “white eyes writhing in his face”. This positions us to reject the notion of glory in war and puts the reader in mind of the carnage presented as war’s legacy. Owens final statement displays a tone of irony in the expression “The Old Lie”. This relates to the title translating to “good and glorious it is to die for your country”. In relation to “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, the dominant ideology is argued upon by the voiceless soldier. Once again, Owen positions us to feel the frustration of the marginalized soldier.