“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them deceive themselves”, Eric Hoffer.
Wilfred Owen served in world war 1 in the western front in France and his poems tell of the lies and truth of war. In the war poems Wilfred Owen and edited by John Stalworthy, Owen writes about the reasons and influences of the young men who are deceived into enlisting with high spirits brought on by the propaganda of community and country. He projects a painful and harrowing image of the war profoundly using languages such as similes, metaphors and alliteration.
In Owens poem ‘Dulce et decorum est’ the suffering of the soldiers he describes as “old beggars under sacks”, in the lines “drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of tired outstripped five nines that dropped behind”. It shows the soldiers plight in hopeless conditions where they’re so tired they can’t even respond to immediate threats.
In the last stanza of ‘Dulce et decorum est’ “in all my dreams before my helpless sight…………..of vile incurable sores on innocent tongues” describes the pointless suffering and the death which is not mourned.
Some young boys were coerced into joining the army by their family members and friends and whole of society itself by telling them it’s a path to manhood, respect among your peers, being honoured by your community and a name for yourself. So they join like children as mentioned in Owens poem ‘Dulce et decorum est’ ardent for some desperate glory and consequently fall for the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, ‘it is sweet and fitting to die for ones country’.
If someone chooses not to fall for the old lie, he is ostracised and considered a coward and looked at as something less of a man, scum. Even joining voluntarily wont stop the indifference , as evident in ‘The dead beat’ when a doctor says “that scum you sent last night soon died. Hooray!”
The people who encouraged the young people to enlist have a lukewarm attitude to the returning soldiers either because of apathy or they are desensitized by what is going on…