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Context. Why wasn’t it ‘over by Christmas…’?. Developments in technology and modern warfare One million grenades coming out of munitions factories every week British soldiers were outnumbered, badly equipped and unprepared Trench warfare created deadlock where very little ground was made.

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Context

Context


Why wasn t it over by christmas

Why wasn’t it ‘over by Christmas…’?

  • Developments in technology and modern warfare

  • One million grenades coming out of munitions factories every week

  • British soldiers were outnumbered, badly equipped and unprepared

  • Trench warfare created deadlock where very little ground was made.

  • Awful conditions


Context

  • 13,000 men in 2 days, Flanders, March 1915

  • 60,000 men in 14 days. Battle of Loos, 1915

  • 60,000 men in 1 day, Battle of the Somme, 1916: more than the Crimean War, Boer War and Korean War combined


Wilfred owen

Wilfred Owen

  • Born 1893

  • Died November 4th, 1918

  • Killed in action, just a week before war ended.

  • News of his death reached his mother just as the town’s church bells were ringing for victory at the end of the war.

  • One of the war’s most famous poets for speaking out against the death and destruction it brought.


Dulce et decorum est wilfred owen

DULCE ET DECORUM ESTWilfred Owen

Close Reading of Language


Context

What is this poem about?


The title dulce et decorum est

The title- Dulce et Decorum Est

  • Taken from a Latin saying meaning ‘It is sweet and right (to die for your country)’- in other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to die for your country.

  • This was widely quoted at the beginning of the war and poems like Pope’s ‘Who’s for the Game’ reflected this idea.


Is this sweet is this right is this fitting

Is this sweet? Is this right? Is this fitting?

  • With mustard gas the effects did not become apparent for up to twelve hours. But then it began to rot the body, within and without.

    •The skin blistered, the eyes became extremely painful and nausea and vomiting began.

    •Worse, the gas attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucus membrane.

    •The pain was almost beyond endurance and most victims had to be strapped to their beds.

    •Death took up to four or five weeks.


Context

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we curse through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.


Activity 1 5 mins

Activity 1(5 mins)

Owen uses lots of powerful imagery and similes to describe the soldiers. Find three examples of this and explain the effect these might have on the reader.


Activity 2

Activity 2

  • What is the impact of ‘Gas! Gas! Quick boys!’

  • Owen describes the soldiers putting their gas masks on as ‘an ecstasy of fumbling’. Why does he use the word ‘ecstasy’?


Context

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime...

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.


Activity 3

Activity 3

  • What is Owen describing here?

  • What is the effect of words like ‘guttering, choking, drowning.’?


Context

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,


Activity 4

Why does Owen describe his dreams as ‘smothering’?

What is the impact of using the word ‘flung’?

This is a description of a man after a gas attack, as his lungs are slowly eaten away. Which ugly words and comparisons describe this?

Who do you think Owen is addressing here when he says ‘If you could hear’?

Activity 4


Context

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori.


Activity 5

Activity 5

  • What is the tone of these final lines?

  • How do you feel about this poem and what do you think its final message is?


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