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Dulce et Decorum Est

Dulce et Decorum Est

by Wilfred Owen

Nightmares

Symbol Analysis

Just how "real" is this war scene that we're reading about? Well, that's a tricky question. For our speaker, it's too horrible to seem real at all. That's why we get so many descriptions of the battlefield as a bad dreamscape (you know, like one of those horrible night terrors that you had as a kid). The only difference is that you could wake up sweating and run to your parents. For this guy, the dream is the real deal.

  • Line 2: See our analysis in "Allusion" of the simile comparing hags to soldiers here. If hags are witches, then they fit pretty well into the whole nightmare vibe that's being created.
  • Line 2: Check out the alliteration in this line: the repeated "k" sounds begin to have an echoing quality, like the words that bounce around in a nightmarish fog.
  • Lines 13-14: The imagery of these lines is pretty intense. Murky green lights and all-encompassing fog? Sounds scary to us.
  • Lines 15-16: Here's where our speaker gets serious about his dreams. The image of the dying soldier becomes a literal nightmare, one which haunts the speaker for the rest of the poem.
  • Line 19: This line is all alliteration all the time. The "w"s in this line just keep stacking up.
  • Line 20: More sound play. Sibilance is the name of the game in this line: repeating "s" sounds create a sort of hissing on our tongues. Oh, and did we mention the allusion to the devil in this line? He's pretty nightmarish.

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