OWEN?S ?DULCE ET DECORUM EST? AND THE DANGER OF THE SUBLIME

Abstract

Author(s): Visam MANSUR

Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” is a poem written with a sublime style about a horrible and terrifying event: an exhausted soldier seeing his comrade gassed to death in the battle field. The paper critiques the eloquence with which the events are narrated in the poem. While Owen challenges patriarchy and insinuates that it is responsible for the horror of war, he maintains in the poem, to a great extent, a conventional approach to versification that does not subvert the traditional patriarchal forms of composition. The diction of the poem is deliberately chosen to create aural, visual, and intellectual effects familiar to generations of poets before him. This failure of representation confirms my suspicion that the poet at the moment of composing the text has never lived the agony and the intensity of the experience described by the traumatized soldier. Owen’s exaggeration in detailing violence in sequential order and with sublime idiom leads to the desensitization of the readers’ feelings, as is the case with the presentation of horror and violence in today’s visual media. The sublime language used in the text, subliminally moderates the final images stored in the reader’s subconscious about the violence of war and renders the soldier’s experience less terrible than what the reality is. Thus, Owen’s poem through its sublimated style and idiom, acts subliminally on the reader’s subconscious paving the way for the familiarization of the horrors of war, to the extent that these horrors cease to become that terrible

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