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Literature is a very rich form of art that provides writers with the opportunity to express feelings and emotions effectively and conclusively just by the use and manipulation of words. The diversity expressed in literal works is just but one of the examples of the richness of literature. Genres are diverse and even within genres writers can still employ the wide variety of styles to writer about events, ideas, and emotions in real life or even constructed within works of fiction.  Literature also gives writers the opportunity to depict the society in a way that only artists can. Looking at the similarities and difference between different works of literature from different genres and written by different writers is enough to reveal the richness of literature. The essay will look at how imagery and literature is used in the book 'How to Tell a True War Story' by Tim O'Brian and the novel 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen.


Basically Imagery is the use of mental pictures that assist the writer in vividly explaining certain aspects to the reader. In addition, imagery can also involve the appealing of senses of touch, smell, taste and hearing (Rapelli 5).

The chances of the two pieces of literature of using the same forms of imagery are high since both the poem and the novel describe various events in wars. The general realization is that the poem takes a rather melancholic approach describing the events of solders who are fatigued after spending time in the battle field. The melancholic approach helps the author to demonstrate the desperation and the miserable aftertaste felt by the solders after the battle. However, the author does not achieve this without the use of imagery to vividly describe the events and the emotions felt by the solders. The author describes the flares as being haunting by writing on stanza four that: "Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs" (Shmoop 15).  Flares are common during wars due to the bombings that are characterized by fires. Although, the solders have left the battle field they can still hear the flares. Compounded with the fact that the flares are haunting them implies that they have perhaps lost the battle to the enemy.

The haunting flares are used to remind the solders of glorious victory on the battle but shameful defeat. The author also decribes the panes as being misty to describe the state of their vehicles after the battle. On the other hand in the book the author uses satire to describe the events taking place in the war and even manages to bring out the personal perception of solders concerning the events. The general realization in the book is the author manages to explain even the sad moments using lighter tones and so the imagery reflects the lighter tones. The author describes the sound made by the grenade as pop. The author writes that: "...the grenade would make a light pop sound and everybody would be covered in smoke" (O'Brien 66).

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Grenades are common weapons at war and so are games. Games are used by solders to provide tranquility away for the stresses of the battle fields. The pop sound was made by harmless grenade during a game away from the battle field. In describing the ironies of war the author describes the moon as being impassive, the glow of napalm as being purple orange and the glare of a rocket as being red all not desirable to the solders but still possessing a subtle aspect that appeals to the solders. Imagries on both pieces of literature are used to describe events taking place during war and to outline that the events are not usually pleasant. However, the general obervation is that the poem explains the events using a sad tone reflected in the imagery while the novel uses a lighter tone to describes the events and the lighter tone is also evident in the imagery.

Metaphores are used to express certain aspects in terms of other either for emphasis or to explain certain things in lighter tones. Both the novel and the poem describe events of war and the realization is that the use of some metaphors might be similar. However, since the poem takes a melancholic approach while the novel takes a satirical approach there is bound to be differences (Kövecses 124).

The novel compares the solders with old men carrying sacks to emphasize on the state of fatigue and desperation and to draw empathy from the reader. The solders are also described as being drunk with fatigue to show how the fatigue has taken over their senses. The face of a dying solder is described as the face of a devil that is sick of sin. In essence , the metaphor used in the poem seems to evoke empathy from the reader and to demonstrate the extent of sufferings of the solders and the painful death the casualities go through. The metaphor seeks to outline why it is not possible to tell the events of war as they are because most of them are unpleasant.

In the book the author compares the dead solder Curt lemon to a daredevil due to this brevity in war. The author compares the phantom sounds heard by the solders in the jungle to the musicals taking place in an opera. The realization that the sounds were not really existing emphasizes on the state of anxiety experienced by the solders. The incineration caused by the bombing is also described as pure vapor. The observation is that the author attempts to convince the reader by using metaphors that the experiences of war when told in a lighter tone usually involve the omission of most aspects. The general realization is that both literal pieces use metaphors to represent certain aspects and experiences of the war. This is so because both the poem and the book are basically describing the events and experiences of battles. However, the poem and the book take different approaches depending on the objective of the authors. The poem explains things as and there is even the tendency of the writer to exaggerrate. This is seen when the author describes the face of a dying solder as "...a devil sick of sin"  (Shmoop). On the other hand the book tries to explain the events from a satirical point of view with instances of humor.

The comparison between the use of metaphors in the poem and the book reveals that authors can use the richness within literature to take different approaches but stil manage to bring out the same aspect using almost similar themes. The theme of war is common in both novels but in the book the theme is approached from a satirical perspective, while in the poem it is approached from a melancholic point of view. Both the novel and the book are aimed at outlining how unpleasant war is and how it is usually almost impossible to describe the details. The poem decides to describe for the reader the details leaving the reader to percieve the unpleasantness, while the book aviods in all circumstances to describe the events leaving the reader contemplating the nature of the actual events. However, both the novel and the poem manage to arrive at the same objective.

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