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Luigi Pirandello's War and Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Before the modern era of warfare, there was an understanding of a romanticized, altruistic honour of dying for ones nation's security. The 20th Century had completely changed that sentiment. Propaganda, lip service and platitudes designed to demonize the enemy, convinced societies that war was in the best interest of the public. This replaced that hopeful, romanticised honour. The short story, War by Luigi Pirandello and the poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen both effectively use irony to convey this sense of a 'faceless' war. In contrast, the prose in War is based on dialogue and rhetoric questions whereas the poetic structure of Dulce Et Decorum Est offer an emotional impact through imagery, meter and descriptive language. These wars are portrayed as timeless in these readings to drive the point that any modern war is an unjustified sacrifice.

Dramatic irony is used in both Pirandello's prose and Owen's poetry to convey that war has little meaning. After the grieving parents discuss the necessity of sending their children to battle, a woman brings the encounter back to an emotional level. After witnessing the reactions of the parents riding the train, the woman poses an unassuming question to one traveller who insists on justifying the reason to go to conflict: "... just as if she had heard nothing of what had been said and almost as if waking up from a dream, she turned to the old man, asking him: 'Then... is your son really dead?"' (Pg. 3). This transition in the story shows that the parents were comforted by the platitudes of war. However, towards the end of the story, it is clear that no intellectual levelling will take away the pain caused by a faceless conflict generated by war propaganda. Pirandello's use of irony shows that war has no sympathy for any individual by making the parents nameless and static. This furthers the ironic structure of the story, which teaches us that no one can escape the emotional heartache of war. Similarly, Owen uses dramatic irony in his poem to highlight there is nothing 'sweet' or noble to die such a gruesome death in battle. Finally, Owen shows the ultimate contrast in the last two lines of his work: "the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro partria mori" (Line 26-27). He quotes the Roman poet Horace, which can be translated, "it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country" to highlight how untruthful and ironic that statement is against the trenches of the First World War. In contrast, Pirandello's point is subtler, that war is a lie through the touching impact it has on through the grieving parents. Owen's language is explicit in the illogical nature of battle: when he references the lie, he uses a capital 'L' to overemphasize his point.

The reader also understands the theme of that war is faceless in the structure of Dulce Et Decorum Est, which contrasts the structure of Pirandello's short story. Rhyme scheme in Owen's work shows an erratic disintegration of the poem's structure. The first stanza begins with an ABABCDCD structure; however, in the second and third stanza, there is no congruency to the first. The change in the rhyming pattern mirrors the increasing horrors of war that Owen describes. Lack of



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