Compare Owen’s use of language in Dulce et Decorum est and Futility
Both poems are different approaches of war describing the horrors of it in different ways. One is dealing with the moment of death while the other one is about the philosophical ideas after a death opposed to showing the death. The sun is the central issue in the first line of Futility. It says, “Move him into the sun,” which is not said as a shouted command but said very gently. Owen is clinging onto the hope of waking the man up but knows in his mind that the man is dead. He does this because he has just been shocked by the death and can’t accept the death and is willing to try any thing to wake the dead man.
In the whole of the first verse, Owen hints to us that the dead man used to be a farmer. He talks of how the sun woke him every morning and as if it whispered tasks to be done. Owen shows this by saying, “Whispering of fields half-sown. ” Owen compares death with sleep and thinks that if the sun can wake sleeping people then it can wake dead too. In the second verse he goes on to talk about what the sun has done in the past. He mentions how the earth was made and woken by the sun, by saying, “Woke once the clays of a cold star. ” In this poem Owen sees the sun as an omniscient power and a life giver.
Owen mentions, “Are limbs, so dear achieved, are sides full nerved, still warm, to hard to stir? ” I think that this is one of the reasons why he clings on to the hope. This hints that the person has just died and so is still warm and it is as though he is sleeping instead of dead. The man although dead seems close to life, yet cannot be brought back. In the whole poem there is always a sense of exasperation, desperation and later on disbelief.
The title Futility means, pointless. This links back to the end of the poem where Owen asks a question, O what made fatuous sunbeams toil to break earth’s sleep at all? ” This basically means, what is the point of us being created if we are going to kill each other? This shows that he is angry at the whole situation. In Dulce et Decorum est the first picture we get in our minds is a group of people squashed under the weight of their bags struggling to walk through thick mud. Owen makes this image clear by saying, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed. He uses the word ‘cursed’ as a movement or an action when he says, “We cursed through sludge. ”
It is used as a description of the way they walked through the thick and sticky mud. To describe how tired they are the writer uses, “drunk with fatigue” which they are full of fatigue or very, very tired. Up to here the poem was very slow paced and was struggling to gather any speed. It starts at about the same pace as Futility. And the people in Dulce et Decorum est show the same amount determination as the people in Futility. Owen quickened the pace of the poem dramatically, when, “Gas! Gas! ” was shouted. There is a sudden contrast by the activity of the gas attack.
It injected a sudden burst of activity. This activity involved yelling and other horrors like a green light as though it is a nightmare. The word, “ecstasy” is then used to describe the fumbling. He means that happiness will come to whoever gets their gas masks out in time. Owen describes the gas as like water. He uses the words, “Drowning, floundering, green sea, guttering and choking,” to achieve this. After this he just describes the rest of the gruesome death in detail. He gives us images of decay, rotting and illness. He talks of it as being, “obscene as cancer.
By this he means that cancer is a massive killer disease and kills from within and Owen is comparing the gas with cancer as the gas kills from within too so they are both obscene as each other. Owen thinks there is too much evil here. He shows this by saying, “Like a devil’s sick of sin,” where I think he means that even a devil would be sick of sin. Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori means that it is sweet and honourable to die for your country. Owen describes it as, “the old lie,” because he doesn’t think its true. He sees it as a nightmare that involves dying of decay and rotting.
The poem is basically saying that we shouldn’t encourage people to go to war and is also criticizing the people who do. I think that Dulce et Decorum est is about proving to people that it is not sweet and honourable to die for your country. It goes through the worst parts of the war and describes it in detail. Both start of at a slow pace but in both there is a sense of determination. In Dulce et Decorum est the soldiers are determined to keep going and plodding on even though they are very tired. You can feel the determination when they curse their way through the sludge.
In Futility there is a lot of determination shown when the dead man is trying to be woken by the others. Even though they know the sun can’t help them they are determined it will. Futility is about not accepting death and hanging on to hope that he will come back to life. The voice of the poet is soft but still commanding. I think there is a certain point in the poem where the poet loses hope in the sun and anger then settles in which is why in the end he questions why everybody was created if we were just going to die in the end. I think there is also a huge sense of shock and worry.
This shock and worry is based around the casualty in both poems. In Futility the worry starts from the beginning of the poem when they are wondering what to do. Shock comes in later on when they realise that the sun can’t help the casualty and no one else can either. In Dulce et Decorum est the worry starts from when the Gas comes into it. The shock comes in when the man is dying and all they can do is stare. That is why I don’t think they helped him. I think both poems are very different but similar in their own ways only when you look closely.