A Comparison of “Who’s for the Game” and “Dulce et Decorum est” Essay Sample

A Comparison of “Who’s for the Game” and “Dulce et Decorum est” Pages
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For this essay I am going to compare and contrast the two poems “Who’s for the game” was published by the daily mail. The poem was designed as a propaganda poem to encourage men to join the army in the war effort. This addressed the men of Britain and reassured them that if they joined it would be nothing to be scared of. It makes the war sound easier by comparing the war to a game throughout the poem. In contrast to this view of war a totally different attitude is given by “Dulce et Decorum est”. Throughout the poem Owen describes to us about the tragedies and horrors of war.

In the poem Owen tells us about a group of soldiers that have been at the front line for some time and are falling back as they desperately need rest, they then are attacked with gas. Owen then describes the soldiers rush for their masks, however one soldier does not get his mask on in time. Owen explains to us the feelings and emotions he felt as he had to go to war and fight. This poem is his experience and he saw the soldier dying.” Dulce et Decorum est” was written in response to poets such as Jessie Pope as Owen did not agree to the way that the war was portrayed in their poems. “Dulce et Decorum est” was addressed to the people of Britain to give a realistic truthful view of war. Both poems have the same theme of war but have totally opposite attitudes towards it.

In the poem “Who’s for the Game” Jessie pope makes a comparison between war and a ‘Game’. The use of ‘Game’ gives the indication that war is easy. It gives the idea it will be easy to cope with and that it will be fun.

“the red crashing game of a fight”

In this line the word ‘Game is used again, the word fight in this means a small harmless fight. Pope does this as it makes the poem sound light hearted and persuasive. It makes the poem persuasive, as many people would want to join up for the war if it was how pope made it sound, ‘like a Game’. Pope also uses words like “who’ll grip and tackle the job”

This language is normally associated in games. Also Pope makes a comparison between war and a show

” a turn for himself in the show”

To me this makes war sound fake as in a show you would act out a role, as well as this it glorifies war because people would look at an actor with praise, Pope is saying this could be you being looked up to as a soldier.

Throughout the poem Pope mentions as well as addressing two types of men. Pope suggests these two types of men are opposites. The first type of man is eager to join the war thinks it is his duty to god and his country, he wants to be part of the so called ‘game’ a brave man isn’t afraid of getting hurt.

The other type of man that is mentioned is someone that does not want to be part of the war, just wants to sit back.

“who thinks he’d rather sit tight”

Pope mentions this type of man in an almost sarcastic manner, as if someone would actually want to sit out the war. If they did not want to be part of the war they would be missing out on the fun.

“be out of the fun”

I believe that Pope has used these kinds of phrases as a tactic to challenge the men. She also makes as if the war is a race

“tow the line for the signal to go”

This tactic usually worked well, she’s really saying if you are a real man come and join the war. Young men would usually join up in friendship groups. For someone that did not want to join the war the other s would tell he’ll be out of the fun and would tease him, tell him he is not a real man. This worked many a time, as it would manipulate the man into joining up, as he would not want to be seen as weaker. Pope encourages the men by making them feel important by saying their country wants them.

“looking and calling for you”

She is suggesting that they will be recognized for what they do like some kind of hero a man that his country would be proud of.

In stanza three Pope makes a metaphoric comparison between war and “picnic”

“who knows it won’t be a picnic-not much”

In this phrase the noun “picnic” is saying that the war won’t be a breeze or easy that it will get a bit hard. However, nothing too bad that the man cannot cope with. This gives a casual view of the war. Even though it will get a bit ‘tricky you should be eager to join and fight.

“Yet eagerly shoulders a gun”

This line is questioning that if the war is so bad then why are there so many men eager to join up. This lead readers to believe that if so many men were joining it wasn’t that bad after all.

“Who would rather come back with a crutch?

Than lie low and be out of the fun”

This phrase is saying if they joined they would get a little hurt. Like breaking a leg or something to that extent. It says “come back” this, suggests that they will all come home after the War. Dying is never mentioned in the poem. After all who would want to go to war if they knew it was more than likely that they would never come home.

In the last stanza of “Who’s for the game” Pope finishes the poem off the poem in a happy and jolly mood that had been carried throughout. She creates this happy and jolly atmosphere by using an effective rhythmic rhyme scheme AbAb. This rhythm is stable and reliable throughout. This makes the poem sound light hearted. Pope refers to the country being in need. This is done by using lines such as:

“Who’ll give his country a hand”?

This questions the men of Britain by asking them if they will help their country that has always been there for him. Two other lines that are used are

“Your country is up to her neck in a fight” and

“She’s looking and calling for you”

Both these lines refer to the country as a female by using the words “she’s” and “her”. To me Pope has used this comparison, as it is very persuasive. As men would go to war for the woman that they loved to protect her. The country would be loved as a mother figure as the country would protect her sons and would always be there for them. The two lines suggest that the country is desperately in need of their help; the men should be there to protect her. I think using the word ‘neck’ creates a slight sense of urgency. It creates a sort of drowning feeling as if the country is just keeping her head above water and needs to be saved. Also both the lines involve the readers with the use of words like ‘your’ and ‘you’. This is personal to the readers it would give a sense of confidence, that the country would need that person reading this gave a positive and direct response. In the poem Pope uses slang such as ‘sit tight’ and ‘up to her neck’. This is used to again involve the reader as Pope is trying to sound like a friend to the men.

In the poem “Dulce et Decorum est” Wilfred Owen wants people to learn the reality of war as apposed to the propaganda in the newspapers. In the first stanza of the poem Owen uses effective and powerful similes to describe the image of how the soldiers physically look. Owen uses the similes

“bent double like old beggars”

” coughing like hags”

This indicates the probably young soldiers have been aged by the war, walking bent over with aching backs. The words ‘beggars’ and ‘hags’ are quite powerful as these sorts of people are not respected in society and it gives the social implication that these soldiers are not respected. Owen also uses the word ‘sacks’ this implies that all there cloths are tatty and worn like rags. The words sludge suggests the conditions that of which the soldiers were walking through are wet muddy and boggy.

“knock kneed”

These words give the impression that it is cold and they are tired. The phrases that express the tiredness of the soldiers is the line

“the men marched asleep”

This states that the men are just so tired that while they walk they cannot stay awake so they fall asleep.

The words “limped on” say that they are in a very poor state, they have bad feet and injuries. The word ‘trudge’ expresses how slow the men are walking, that the pace is so slow that they are barely moving. Owen also creates the image the image that all the soldiers are cut badly and are covered in blood as he states that they are ‘blood shod’

“all went lame all, blind”

For this quotation Owen uses the word ‘lame’ this term is usually associated with injured animals like cattle. This implies that the men are in such a bad state that they can be compared to as animals. The second part of the quotation says ‘all blind’

To me this indicates that their vision has been compromised due to tiredness. The metaphor

“drunk with fatigue deaf even to the hoots”

Suggests that the soldiers are so unbelievably tired that they have had too much and become drunk. In the second part of the quotation it implies that due to tiredness there senses have failed so they cannot even here the guns of war. The mood of this first stanza is depressing. The pace is very slow to me this is reflecting on the speed at which they are walking and it has a serious tone.

The second stanza has an immediate change of pace. This is where the soldiers are attacked with gas.

“Gas! GAS!”

The first two words of the stanza create a major sense of urgency; it does this by the way it is written and the use of large capitals and exclamation marks. This words ‘GAS’ is repeated twice on the second time it is larger. This suggests that it is being shouted very loud and creates a rushed feeling. The word ‘QUICK’ says that the gasmasks needed to be put on immediately. Owen creates a sense of fast action by the use of words like “an ecstasy of fumbling “. The soldiers are in a desperate panic, struggling to find their masks. When they do find them they are in such a rush to put them on they become clumsy.

“fitting to clumsy helmets”

It suggests that their hands are shaking. However in the mad rush someone did not get his mask on in time.

“but someone was still yelling out and stumbling”

This soldier was shouting and crying out for help and stumbling around.

“floundering like a man in fire or lime”

This simile suggests that the man is struggling in the mud and the word ‘fire’ shows us of the immediate effect of the gas upon him.

“dim through misty panes and thick green light”

This quotation describes to us the effect of the gas that is flooding through the air. The gas was thick and green and hard to see through as if it were a misty window. Owen uses the metaphoric comparison between the sea and the gas.

” as under a green, I saw him drowning”

This implies that the gas was like the sea and the man was drowning in it. The use of the word green to me indicates that the sea is polluted and septic like a wound. This creates a big impact as the poem stops being just that and becomes a horrific real experience. Owen says “in all his dreams” as he had seen people die before as he was at war. However never had he witnessed or imagined a death so sickening. These last two lines are extremely powerful.

“before my helpless sight”

Owen explains how before him this man probably a friend was dying and he just had to watch, as he was powerless to stop his death. The fated soldier throws himself at him.

“he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning”

The harsh words describe the effect of the gas, it sounds awfully horrendous. The mood of this stanza is very tense at the start as you are trying to imagine what it is like and you are hoping that all the soldiers will get their masks on in time. There is serious and panicky tone to this part of the poem. The mood then changes, as you are shocked that Owen actually experienced this sight of the soldier dying and you feel remorse. The poem changes from 3rd person narrative to first person narrative, as it is personal to Owen.

In the final stanza, which I believe has the most impact on readers. Owen includes the word “you”. This immediately involves us as a reader; it put us into his position.

“smothering dreams”

This line creates a kind of claustrophobic feeling that only in a suffocating awful dream we could just start to imagine what Owen had witnessed. How he and the rest of the soldiers had to trapes behind the wagon of dead bodies that they had thrown this man on. He feels responsible. The word ‘flung’ indicates that there was no time as they were in a war to be careful and sensitive. The way he spoke about it makes it seem as if it were a routine and an inhumane one at that. Owen tells us about the lasting image of the dying soldier. How they had to ‘watch’ and nothing could be done. To them this man was already dead. He was isolated and full of fear; it was a waste of life.

“white eyes writhing”

Owen describes how the soldier physically looks. The line suggests that the entire colour from the soldiers eyes had disappeared also alliteration is used this also creates a powerful effect.

“His hanging face”

This builds up a picture of the soldier being very pale with a lifeless face with no expression. He looks so terrible that his skin is drawing away from him. Owen uses an extremely disturbing simile.

“like a devil sick of sin”

These are very severe sounding words as the devil loves sin he is sin, this emphasizes on how bad the soldier looks. For a devil to be sick of sin it must be tremendously frightful. The poet describes how at the jolting movement of the wagon he and the rest of the soldiers could here blood gargling from the man’s tainted lungs.

“bitter as the cud”

Cud is regurgitated grass that cows chew, this was a similar substance coming from effect and build up a shocking image.

“incurable sores on innocent tongue’s

The soldier has sores from the gas when he should not have. He was “innocent” and did not deserve to die in this war.

“My friend you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory”

I believe that in this phrase Owen is addressing other poets such Jessie Pope. He is saying to them that if it were they who had witnessed this dreadful war, they would most certainly not write about it with such idealistic enthusiasm ‘high zest’. They would not lie to the young men ‘children’ that did not know anything about war and yet so desperately wanted to be part of it, for their country and glory.

“The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori”

This emotive phrase means that it is sweet and right to die for your country. Owen tells us this is a lie. It is not right to die at war. I believe that Owen used this quotation in Latin as it gives more of a compelling effect than being written in English. I also think that it was used as it is on old language just like the lie is old. Along with these reasons I feel that Latin was used as it fitted in well with the theme of the poem. As war is all about death and Latin is considered as a dead language. The mood at the end of this stanza is bitter, resentful and critical. However the stanzas mood begins sad as the soldier dies and it is reflective. Owen left the whole of the title until the very end, he starts off the poem with giving the title ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. He tells us in the poem all about the horrors and tragedies of war then tells us how ‘Dulce et decorum est Pro patia mori’ is a lie after we have read a truth.

The main theme of both poems is war but the attitudes towards it are completely opposite as well as the poet’s purpose in writing them. The mood of Jessie Pope’s “Who’s for the game” is enthusiastic. It made young men want to join the war, as they would be missing out on the fun if they did not. It is very patriotic and dutiful, that the men should help their country, as it is their job and should sacrifice themselves to protect it. The mood that is at the fact so many innocent men died for some ardent glory. Owen criticizes other poets for writing lies of war to encourage more men to join.

Owen creates a mood of sadness by telling us of how the soldier is dying in front of him and there is nothing he can do. Owen reflects on this and puts the readers in his position. Throughout both poems imagery is very important in both poems. Owen highlights the horrors of war by creating violent and brutal imagery. All the sounds of the guns and dropping gas shells, how the dead were just discarded onto a wagon and how the soldiers were attacked with gas are violent images and sounds. The poet deliberately shocks the readers by describing in detail of the soldiers death. He told us how blood came foaming from his mouth and how it was so awful he was like a devil sick of sin. This however is a very realistic view of war, many did die this way. Owen describes his hellish experience. Very different imagery is used by Jessie Pope, she hid the truthful brutality of war by depicting it as a game.

Pope tries to encourage young men to join up by creating a false image of war as a though it were a sports game, in a game you would just come out with a few cuts and bruises. She suggests that war is fun and if men did not join they would be missing out on “fun”.

The structure and rhyme scheme of “Who’s for the Game”

as it adds to the effect of the poem. There are four stanzas in the poem each has four lines. The poem has an Ab Ab rhyme scheme, which is constant throughout it make the poem sound light hearted and jolly. This is what Pope wanted but this is inappropriate as the poem is about war. The structure “Dulce et Decorum est” is three stanzas the first two have eight lines the third has twelve lines. The poem initially take on a sonnet from it has iambic pentameter it’s stressed then unstressed. The sonnet farm is usually associated with love. I think that Owen does this because the poem is so opposite to the theme of love. However the pattern starts to break down at the attack as the rhyme scheme has gone from Ab AB to Cd Cd. This is significant in the poem as it gives it a more serious atmosphere.

Overall I found both poems quite interesting to read and discuss. “Dulce et Decorum est” was truthful and realistic and therefore found it more interesting as the events actually happened, although “Who’s for the Game” is a very good poem for it’s intended purpose, I believe that it should not have been published as it was false and war in my opinion should never be compared to a game, as so many young and innocent people died.

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