Anthem for Doomed Youth

The role of the Author

What can you determine/understand about the writer of the text? What are his beliefs and values? What does he want the reader to experience and understand?

The writer of the text has experienced war and the deaths that have occurred throughout. He understands the rituals and respect that the country follows when theses deaths occur such as drawing-down blinds. He has experienced bombs and guns which helped him to be able to express the fear and depression of death to his friends and fellow soldiers as well as the families feelings towards the death of their loved ones. He wants to give the readers a sense of actually being there when the bells are ringing out and the feeling that the family has when one of their loved ones has died as well as people’s friends.

The writer might have experienced being on the front line as he seems to know the constant sounds of guns of bombs going off around him. I assume he has been there a long time as well as he seems to constantly be hearing their sounds. He might have returned back to his hometown or village after being on the front line as he listens to the church bells ringing out for the dead. He writes from a personal point of view so we can also assume he has had many people he is close with die and the bells have rung out for his loved ones. He may be with people he loves like family and they are all mourning the death of loved ones as he watches them pray and sees grief-stricken faces. There are contrasting images as he tells of how the scene of death is every soldier is treated as another number. 

Dulce et Decorum Est- What has been included?


” Coughing like hags”- this gives of the image of the soldiers half falling down as the walk as they are so fatigued from the war that they are coughing and spluttering as the continue to push on. It gives us the impression that they are struggling through the war and they have little motivation anymore as the atmosphere becomes depressing as they all become depressed and sick from the constant struggle. Hags are refered to as witches which is how the soldier are portrayed as they are not themselves anymore use to the pain and sickness they are experiencing.

” Dim through the misty panes”- This gives of the imagery of a dreary, cloudy atmosphere as the gas swarms the soldiers of war. The gas is clouding the soldiers view and killing them off. It indicates the way the gas is affecting them as it fills their eyes and if they don’t get their helmets on in time it fills their lungs. This also tells us the soldiers are feeling down as they are surrounded by a dim light.

” Drunk with fatigue” This gives us the imagery of soldiers stumbling and falling as they are so tired. when we think of someone who is drunk they are falling and fumbling around as they aren’t in control of themselves.  This is how the soldiers feel as they are so tired from the war and hard work they act like they are drunk feeling out of control and clumsy.  They feel as they have no control over themselves and the downward spiral toward death that is being caused from the war.


The word “ALL” is used throughout the text and is repeated through the stanzas. Tis gives us the idea that the writer is saying no one is escaping the pain of war. All of the soldiers around the writer and him included are being consumed by the gas, injury and tragedy. It helps us to understand the atmosphere the soldiers are experiencing as they are all together fighting for the same cause and every one of them is being affected by the same problems and struggles as they die and try to push through together. IT has been included to show us that it’s not just the writer who is struggling it is his friends and fellow soldiers as well.

The repetition sentence of “Gas, GAS” in the beginning of the second stanza tells us of how the soldier feels about the gas. The words are used like it is an enemy getting closer and closer at he uses  non capitals in the first word Gas and as it comes closer and becomes more of a threat he uses it in capitals “GAS” it shows us that they are warning the soldiers of the threat ahead and they must prepare for battle by putting their helmets on in time before they are attacked as well as consumed by the gas.  The atmosphere that they are experiencing is pure terror as they try to get prepared in the little time they have by getting protection from this treat. There will be strong feelings of anxiety and anticipation as they wait for it to hit.

The use of the word Lie with a capital L gives the word a personal feeling as the writer treats it like a person. He tells us that the word which is treated like someone telling Wilfred that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country which he believes is untrue and he has been betrayed by the word and everyone who believed that this statement was true. It gives of the atmosphere that Wilfred feels angry that this word has broadcasted and hidden the truth that it is glorious and a good experience to go to war and die for his country when really this was all untrue and he is experiencing hell through fighting.  He wants this statement to not be told in such energy and enthusiasm that it is sweet and fighting to die for one’s country and that the truth should be told that really it is a tragic and soul-destroying experience.

Language techniques 

“coughing like hags”- This language technique is a simile. This simile attaches the word like Hags to coughing. This helps give a better image to the sentence as the word Hag is another name for a witch.  This gives us an image of a old Witch coughing and spluttering. Witches are suppose to be slightly wicked so he refers to the cough as almost wicked. It helps the reader to understand that the soldiers are struggling with a deathly cough.

” I saw him drowning” This language technique is a personal pronoun. This personal pronoun I, gives the reader the feel that they are with the writer experiencing the man “drowning.” It gives the sentence a personal feel and connects the reader to the writers experience and how they are feeling as they watch a man drown in a green gas and the feelings and physical pain they are watching. It helps the reader to get a sense of how they would feel in the same position by making it relevant to the reader.

“Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores” This language technique is Listing. The use of listing helps the reader to develop an understanding of the horrible pain that the soldiers are experiencing. The writer is referring it to ideas like cancer which helps us to know that the pain they have is incurable and will be with them forever. It gives the sense of struggle and extremities that the war is having on the men physically. It tells the reader that what they are experiencing will never go away and is reinforced by the list of other example such as the cancer and incurable sores. Listing elaborates to give a clearer picture and emphasises these ideas.


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Chris Waugh