Portrait of War in Letter to a Future Generation and Dulce Et Decorum Est

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For the longest time, wars have had diverse effects on society. Many people including the young and old, woman and men, and even some security officers may lose their lives, close friends, jobs, loved ones and close friends. Sometimes, they may end up being refugees either in their own countries or in foreign nations. The most affected in wartime are often women and children. War can also cause destruction of property in town like burning of houses and shops leaving people living in fear every day. To show the effects of war on the society, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Wilfred Owen, the authors of ”Letter to a Future Generation” and ”Dulce et Decorum Est” respectively used various writing styles in their writing. Some of the stylistic devices employed in the two literary works include similes, repetitions, and metaphors among others. By using these devices, the two speakers can effectively convey their intended messages to the readers, thus carrying away readers’ emotions. The paper will discuss how Wilfred Owen and Gwendolyn MacEwen successful employ various literary devices in their work to vividly create perplexing images of war and how their opinions may differ.

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The presentation of war in the two poems is very shocking and makes us to sympathize with the condition of various people including soldiers, children, women, and young men due to their poor conditions during the war. In the Dulce et Decorum Est, for example, Owen uses irony to criticize those with the belief that warfare provide honor to individuals in society. He instead states that war causes destruction therefore leaving the society in distress (MacEwen, 2009). It is evident that the societies, in many cases, have been honoring people who either participated in fighting for the freedom of their countries or rights of the society especially in expression. Although this is a good way of showing respect to those who were patriotic to the country, it is also good to understand that war causes many people to loss of their lives or property. MacEwen refers to the war as bright one which has consumed many people’s lives to ashes and no one understands the silent manner in which war creeps up – most people do not notice (MacEwen, 2009).

Although the two authors uses different literate devices in their work, their employment of these devices create perplexing images of war (Spacey, 2016). According to the two authors, war can cause various effects in addition to loss of life and property. Such effects include loss of friends, relatives, loved ones, and destruction leaving people in state of urgency. By using words like distant, rest, and trudge, as well as sludge in his work, Owen vividly shows that war is vital as well as vile and therefore it should not be seen as a way of showing patriotism. The effects brought on by the war are always harsh to all human beings regardless of their status, race, or background and this is especially seen when the solders suffer from plaguing gas attacks. Similarly, the description of how the situation was tough during war by MacEwen in the last stanza of her work is evidence of the impacts of war. She describes how she was standing with an animal and could also hear the sounding of the gun from a mythical city. This imagery therefore depicts emotions during the war. She however encourages young people to fight for their freedom for better future generations by engaging in war.

Moreover, their depictions of war however differ from one stanza to another. Throughout his work, Owen uses literate devices like similes and imaginary to illustrate the effects of war as well as the living standards of soldiers in the time of war. Use of the word such as trudge and sludge allows the readers to have a clear picture of the physical conditions people especially our military officers go through during war. Also, such words attract readers’ intention as they develop an interest of wanting to know about the impacts of war by reading one stanza after another. In addition, use of such words play a significant role in showing readers how security officers are not merely tired and how they are almost losing their hopes for the better future. For example, in the first stanza of his work, Owen uses similes when describing the soldiers. He states that solders are very old like the crippled reprobates; some are bent double and look like the old beggars under sacks coughing like hags regardless of their ages. He therefore manages to break the accepted image of security officers being clever and patriotic to the most non-admirable work in the country and the government as well as the society should put more focus on improving the lives of our security officers.

Another way Owen uses to present the impacts of gas attacks is by using of capital letters as well as exclamation marks. The two devices are used to emphasize on the urgency of the situation and how people are worried during the state of emergency. In line nine, stanza two, Owen deliberately applies the term GAS! with an exclamation mark to show the urgency of the situation and individuals have to hurry in order to save their life. We can feel the rush throughout the lines. In addition, using the term ecstasy helps Owen to dramatize the fear of the soldiers. Not only did the speaker use these words to pace up her work but also to show the sense of emergency as well as confusion of our soldiers in the war. The memory of the dying soldier will forever remain in the thoughts of the speaker.

Unlike Owen, MacEwen uses metaphors to present the impacts of war on an individual, family, and society as whole. For example, MacEwen metaphorically uses the term animal in stanza five referring to an individual who is scared and is also unfazed by emotions (Strimas, n.d). She claims that the animal was just standing at her left hand and at the same time the ghost warmly breathed from the other side. This therefore shows that the situation was too difficult for her to handle, and In fact, such description of the situation provides a clear picture to the readers of how war can negatively affects the life of an individual. She also states how one could hear the sounds of the guns.

According to MacEwen, war is the main source of destruction. Throughout her poem, she frequently use the word you to place an emphasis on the disruption of wartimes (Strimas, n.d). One of the effects caused by the war as asserted by MacEwen in the poem is the interference of the destiny of the individual as many people lose their lives in war. According to her, it can kill people slowly thus reducing the population of the country. Sometimes, it becomes hard for people to walk freely. Therefore, in order to prevent war from occurring as portrayed by MacEwen, young people should be provided with education about the effects of war.

In general, although the two writers Owen and MacEwen differ in their presentation of the effects of war on the future generation, the two have successfully used various literate devices to create a clear image of the war. Wars can cause destruction of properties, loss of life, or even can make people live in fear. Their presentation on the conditions of soldiers is very shocking and makes us sympathize to them due the poor physical and mental condition that is accompanied by war. It is therefore important for all of us including young people, men, and women to say no to the war and live peaceful life.

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Portrait of War in Letter to a Future Generation and Dulce et Decorum Est. (2019, Jul 23). Retrieved January 28, 2023 , from

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