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Analysis of Dulce et Decorum Est. By : Alicia Norton Intended Majors: Psychology and Political Science Hometown: Columbia, Maryland Professor: Paul Crenshaw. The Project . College Writing Objective. The Process. Successes and Challenges. Lesson Learned. The Poem. The Project .

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analysis of dulce et decorum est

Analysis of Dulce et Decorum Est

By: Alicia Norton

Intended Majors: Psychology and Political Science

Hometown: Columbia, Maryland

Professor: Paul Crenshaw

The Project

College Writing Objective

The Process

Successes and Challenges

Lesson Learned

The Poem

the project
The Project

For the second assignment of the semester, students were asked to analyze the content of a chosen piece of writing, focusing on the author’s argument and the rhetorical strategies utilized to effectively convey the argument and influence the audience. I chose to utilize Wilfred Owen’s war poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, depicting battle of WWI for the analysis.

The project identifies Owen’s criticism of WWI and of those who support the war. The analysis discusses Owen’s use of imagery, allusion, and point of view to effectively protest the war, and the nationalism and citizens who fostered its continuation.

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Key Points

key points
Key Points
  • The Owen analysis identifies imagery, allusion, and point of view as literary devicesutilized to protest WWI, and the nationalism and citizens who supported it.
  • Through the devices Owen plays to the emotional and rational appeal of the audience (specifically those supporting the war). He relies on assumptions that the audience can relate to specific events or feelings felt by soldiers and portrayed through the devices. These assumptions contribute to Owen’s appeals.
  • Owen also utilized first person within his poem to provide his criticism with credit. Upon analyzing the audience, it was clear Owen specifically catered his poem towards citizens supporting the war and thus refutes some of their opposition by utilizing firsthand experience.
  • Evidence and examples are provided for each component, as well as evidence supporting the reasoning behind Owen’s use of specific devices.

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college writing objective
College Writing Objective

A more sophisticated writing process

Of the assignments completed within the college writing course, the analysis assignment depended most heavily upon the successful completion of steps and components of the writing process to create a fluent and viable piece. The writer needed to identify various components which the author utilized to convey his point within the piece. The writer must then present to the audience a claim regarding the written work, which then is supported fluently and logically with evidence. The extensive amount of components to produce an effective analysis makes invention difficult, and thus success depended on strict peer responding, revising, and editing toensure the invention produced an effective result.

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the process
The Process


  • Appeals
  • Audience
  • Evident Assumptions, Contradictions, or Hidden Arguments
  • Other Strategies used to support author’s purpose

Make a claim regarding the work

Analyze Work

Look For:

  • Organization
  • Voice
  • Word Choice
  • Fluidity

Pay Attention To:

Find examples and supporting evidence

Compose Work

Does the point come across effectively to others?

Revising and Editing

Peer Response


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successes and challenges
Successes and Challenges



  • Effective Evidence
    • The effective use of evidence successfully supports the presented claim and improves the credibility of the writer.
    • Each literary device mentioned received an example from the work, and Owen’s reasons for utilizing these devices as well as the reason for his condemnation of war, nationalism, and citizens remained supported through his experience of war. Other literary works as well as letters from Owen support these claims.
  • Strong Voice
    • A strong voice presents a more effective piece, and appears more mature to the audience thus giving more credibility to the work.
    • I strove to avoid passive voice, and present effective word choice and sentence fluency
  • Organization
    • It remained pertinent that the multiple components and evidence presented flowed in a fashion that tied all ideas together and made sense to produce an effective final product.
    • I decided to devote each device with its own section of discussion and then discussed at the end of each section how the device related to Owen’s appeals and condemnation o f war, citizens and nationalism.
    • The final paragraph attempted to tie all pieces together to drive home the point successfully.

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lesson learned
Lesson Learned


I learned a great deal about the multiple components that contribute to an analysis. I had never considered hidden arguments, contradictions, or assumptions when analyzing a work prior to this project. Similarly, I had never emphasized appeals in writing as much as I did in this instance.

Lesson Learned Continued

lesson learned continued
Lesson Learned Continued


Upon completing this project I learned a great deal about Wilfred Owen’s history and apparent reasons for composing Dulce et Decorum Est. Owen found himself an officer in the front lines in France during the first World War. Letters to family members actually show that upon entering the war Owen was excited to fight for his country. However, after witnessing the effects of war and the brutality involved came to detest the entire thing. He loathed the nationalism of citizens which claimed that dying for one’s country was becoming of an individual. He ultimately believed citizens were tricking young boys to go to their death. In protest he produced numerous works detesting the war. The most unfortunate piece of information remains the fact that Owen died in battle within a week of the end of the war.

“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.” – Wilfred Owen

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t h e poem
The Poem

Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed 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 bootsBut limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hootsOf disappointed shells that dropped behind.GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd floundering like a man in fire or lime.--Dim, through the misty panes and thick green lightAs under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.If in some smothering dreams you too could paceBehind 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 bloodCome gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.

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