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In the poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” written by Wilfred Owen, the audience is introduced to the horrifying experience of a gas attack in World War I. Owen goes into excruciating detail on every effect of the gas, and describes almost everything about the physical state of the infected, dying man. Thousands of soldiers were exposed to gas in the war, and unfortunately, many of them died from the effects. The first attack that the Germans unleashed on the allies was devastating. Over 5000 soldiers were killed with many more incapacitated (Christianson 30).While the attack was detrimental to the strength in numbers of the group, the effect reduced the psychological strength of the group as well, striking terror into the hearts of the soldiers. Overall, Wilfred Owen was accurate in his depiction of a World War I gas attack on a group of soldiers. From the very beginning of the poem, the soldiers are shown to be exhausted from the war. They are “Bent double, knock kneed, march[ing] asleep, [and] drunk with fatigue” (Owen 1). Clearly the reader can see the exhausted soldiers pushing on through the fields of mud and clay.All of a sudden, gas shells fall behind the men and the deathly green cloud slowly began to overtake the men. By the time the men realized what was happening, only some were able to apply their masks in time. From this point on, the description of the infected soldier begins. After the horrific description of the effects of the poison, the author tells the readers that if they had seen the attack then the parents would not tell their children “The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. ” (Owen 1). Translated to “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. The reason for this quote is because it is not always sweet to die for one’s country, which is clearly displayed in the poem. This is an example of verbal irony because while the meaning of the words are strong and inspiring, they are difficult to actually act upon and carry out when the true time comes. Wilfred Owen was born in England, and he grew up to be a poet and soldier. He actually wrote a handful of poems that were very realistic in their depiction of the trenches and gas warfare in World War I. The reason that his poems are so realistic is that he spent a short, very traumatic amount of time in the service (Salter Owen 1).He was thrown into the air by a mortar where he remained for several days amongst the remains of another soldier (Salter Owen 1). Soon after this experience he was brought to the hospital and diagnosed with shell shock (Salter Owen 1). About a year after writing “Dulce et Decorum Est” Owen was “awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in resisting an enemy counter attack” (Hughes 162). He was different from other poets of his era including Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke. They differed mainly by the fact that Owen was not very patriotic in the writing of his poems.He concludes “Dulce et Decorum Est” by saying that the statement Dulce et Decorum Est Pro patria mori is a lie (Owen 1). This effectively reveals that Owen does not feel extremely nationalist for England, and in fact he states that if the readers could even vaguely dream of what happens in gas attacks, they would feel the same way that he does (Owen 1). Unfortunately, most of his literary works were published after his death so he received no fame for his most famous works. The effects of the chlorine gas are terrible. While Owen goes in depth on the drowning sensation of the attack, there are many more effects.While most of the effects could have been avoided with the simple M2 gas mask, occasionally the mask was defective and nothing could be done for the soldier with the faulty mask (Hook 28). The effects of the chlorine gas are almost immediate, and once inhaled, nothing can be done for the poor victim. This symptom is supported by Joel Vilensky, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology: “[The soldiers] were drowning as plasma from their pulmonary blood vessels invaded the air spaces of their lungs” (Vilensky 14). This drowning sensation that fills up the victim’s lungs with blood is the reason for death.Chlorine gas causes blood vessels to break; in turn filling the lungs, which inhibits breathing and normal movement. Before long, the soldiers were on the ground and dead because there is no turning back once the chlorine gas is inhaled. The blood vessels continue to fill the lungs no matter whether the inhalation is stopped after or not. The chlorine gas only caused the blood vessels to rupture, but shortly the Germans advanced their technologies and invented a new phosgene gas that would carry along all of the affects of chlorine gas as well as immediately “irritat[ing] the cells lining the trachea” (Vilensky 14).The phosgene gas also caused the lungs to swell and deteriorated any membranes exposed to the gas, including the ear drums (Vilensky 14). Fortunately the victims exposed to chlorine gas are not affected over a long period of time with any extreme adverse effects. Most of the symptoms of gas attack survivors fade shortly after exposure (OSD 2). There are not many long term symptoms associated solely with chlorine gas. The most common symptoms of gas attacks over a long period of time are “fatigue, shortness of breath with exercise, and a persistent cough.Others may experience a worsening of pre existing asthma or develop an asthma like illness” (OSD 2). Clearly, the short-term effects of the gas are much more severe than the long-term effects. Part of this may be because the heavily affected victims are killed in the attacks, so the worse long term symptoms are not able to show themselves. It seems as if in the poem that the men are marching somewhere while they are attacked. This contradicts the real accounts of attacks because gas was almost if not exclusively used at the front because it was made to flush the men out of the trenches (Girard 83).With the men out of the trenches they were easy targets and could be picked off without wasting as many supplies. It seems odd that Owen would place the attack in a field because there is no reason for the enemies to attack them while they flee. The attacks were from the front of the soldiers and not behind. With the gas landing behind the men it seems like it is a retreat, or just and entire squad movement back. Which at the time of the poem would be an abnormal occurrence because most of the fronts were locked up in stalemates at the time.It was almost impossible to help the soldiers once they had inhaled the gas. The gas was so deadly in fact, that the doctors of the time looked almost completely incompetent because they could not do a single thing to oppose the effects of the gas (Girard 77). The horrors that the gas caused in the war are terrifying. The men were not only worried of the conflict at the front, but they were also forced to face the horrors of the gasses, and must constantly be on watch. This warfare was not only physically exhausting from trudging hrough sludge with over 50 pounds of gear, but it was mentally taxing as well knowing that at any given moment, one could have to drop everything to apply their gas mask before the fumes reched. Unfortunately as time went on in the war the gas became more deadly and even more effective. The German chemists spent days upon days trying to advance the effectiveness of the gas, and they succeeded. The British were less concerned with how the gas worked, but they worked much more on the deployment of the gas. They made all kinds of cylinders and containers to disperse the gas over a large area as quickly as possible (Hook 37).They moved from shooting cylinders in artillery rounds, to mortars which were much more mobile and easier to carry from place to place, to the Livens projector, which was simply a cylinder dropped into the ground that could launch gas shells immense distances (Hook 34). The only problem with the Livens projector was that it is not mobile. The tube must be dug into the ground in order to shoot it. This was good and bad. For long battles when the front would stay in the same area it was effective because the shells could be launched at the same place repeatedly, but for mobile battles they did not work because they could not be moved easily.Most soldiers that faced the attacks were killed, so it is difficult to find first hand accounts of the attacks. However, duVal Allen was a soldier in World War I that faced the gas attacks, and had short and long term effects from the gas. He came into very brief contacted with the gas, and due to a defective gas mask he was affected (Allen 4). Fortunately he was not killed in the attacks because his mask still did its job somewhat effectively. He left the hospital over four months after the attack, and suffered from chronic tuberculosis afterwards, and was deemed totally disabled from war (Allen 4).The poem is written using several writing methods that influence the reader to feel what Owen feels about the subject. These methods include his uses of imagery, irony, similes and word choice. With the use of imagery he can put pictures in the heads of the readers that are terrifying, and the reason Owen is able to describe the situation so well is that Owen most likely went through the same situation as the main character in the poem during his time being deployed (Miller 1). The way that Owen reveals these images is through his word choice.He uses “guttering, choking, drowning” to make the readers hear and imagine what the victim is actually experiencing (Owen 1). It is simple to extract meaning for the simile “like a devil’s sick of sin” (Owen 1). This simile means that the way this man feels, is the way the devil would feel when he becomes disgusted of sin. It is a very strong image having the most evil being in the universe become disgusted by the very essence in which it was formed, and that is the way that this man is described to feel during this attack. It is a sickening thought to consider how the victim must feel during this period.To drown in your own blood, and not have any chance in the world to be saved by anyone or anything. Owen does a great job describing just how the victim feels during this attack. Owen has a contrasting viewpoint to many of the advertisements and propaganda at the time. Literary criticisms describe the article as “ [revealing] the blind patriotism of the homefront” (Miller 1). Owen does very well in revealing the side of war that is all too often hidden from the average citizen back home. Men always think of the glory that comes with war, along with the medals and fame.It is very seldom that the horrors of war are advertised, unless it is showing what has been done to ones own country. The reason Owen makes this strong statement at the end is to tell the reader to look elsewhere for some feeling of “personal significance” (Hughes 160). Hughes describes the poem as a “recurrent nightmare” in which panic and horror surround Owen due to the “innermost horror… indicating his profound inability to extricate himself” from this nightmare (Hughes 161). This particular critic believes that Owen actually experienced the events in this poem, and it revisits him in his nightmares.Owen was deliberate in his description of the gas attack in order to make an impression on readers. Without this excruciating detail that he includes the same influence may not have been made on the readers. Owen was so accurate in his poem because he knew that the impact would not have been the same on the readers. The onomatopoeia of the poem was very important in conveying the realism displayed as well. Words like “guttering, choking, drowning” truly convey the horror that the victim is going through in ways that some other descriptions simply could not.Owen was excellent in this depiction of a World War I gas attack. He is able to convey the sickening idea of a man dying, all while sending the overall message that war is not the place to find ones personal significance if one is looking for any. Owen ends his poem by effectively conveying that it is not sweet to die for ones country; which is clearly demonstrated by his description of the victim in “Dulce et Decorum Est” and the short struggle to survive that he endures. Works Cited Allen, Rankin duVal. Norwich University Record of Service World War, 1917-1919. Norwich University 1922.Print. Christianson, Scott. Fatal Airs. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2010. Print. Girard, Marion. A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2008. Print. Hughes, John. “Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est. ‘. ” Explicator 64. 3 (Spring 2006): 160-162. Rpt. in Poetry Criticism. Ed. Michelle Lee. Vol. 102. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Literature Resource Center. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. Jones, Simon, and Richard Hook. World War I Gas Warfare Tactics and Equipment. Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2007. Print. Miller, Tyrus. “Overview of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.  Poetry for Students. Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. United States of America. Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library. OSD. Chlorine Gas Exposure. Force Health Protection ;amp; Readiness, 28 Nov. 2007. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. Vilensky, Joel A. , and Pandy R. Sinish. Dew of Death: The Story of Lewisite, America’s World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2005. Print. “Wilfred (Edward Salter) Owen. ” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

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