The unknown citizen
Poetry is unfastened to how a individual reads it and, therefore, can be confounding. The period that verse forms are written can besides do it difficult to read. A poem written two-hundred old ages ago when people spoke the linguistic communication otherwise can do the reading hard, therefore go forthing many different positions of what the verse form means. “ The Unknown Citizen ” by W.H. Auden, was written in 1940 and that epoch can be seen in certain stanzas. The verse form can be read easy and does back up the rubric name. The verse form ‘s usage of imagination, dry tone, and subject presents the struggle of a adult male ‘s true individuality versus being a statistic of the authorities prevents the reader from understanding that this individual is, unknown.
First, the imagination of “ The Unknown Citizen ” gives a good mental image of the life style of this individual. Auden best describes him as an mean citizen when he writes, “ And had everything necessary to the Modern Man ” ( Auden 20 ) .The individual lives what is considered a normal life. He does his responsibility as a citizen of the state he lives in. He has a place, kids, and the basic points that most of the places have during the clip period in which the verse form was written. He has ne’er had any major unwellness and has non had any negative studies given by either a colleague or anyone in the community. The imagination of the individual in the verse form does non allow the reader understand who he is other than he lived an mean life in an mean community.
Second, the dry tone lets the reader see that the Bureau of Statistics knows who the individual is because the Bureau of Statics has all the elaborate informations on the people who live in the state. The information has the basic information and could place the age or race of “ The Unknown Citizen, ” whereas the writer keeps the reader guesswork. The writer states “ That he was popular with his couples and liked to imbibe ” ( Auden 14 ) is the closest we get to what his race or age is. Another dry tone is the usage of the word “ saint ” to depict how he lived his life in the “ modern sense ” . In the “ modern sense ” leads the reader to believe that sainthood is following the position quo of the community alternatively of what a saint is considered in the old fashioned manner. Where the old fashioned usage of saint meant a individual had done miracles. Making his occupation in the needed norm, taking attention of his household, and being a nationalist to his state is what is defined as a saint. Even with the dry tone saint in a “ modern sense, ” this still makes everyone who follows the position quo a saint and does non specify the adult male in the verse form from others in the community.
Third, the subject presents the struggle of a adult male ‘s true individuality versus being a authorities statistic. He could be a individual in any house in a vicinity. The authorities sees him as a figure on a file in a drawer in some authorities edifice. The lone thing that could place him from others in his vicinity is as Auden wrote, “ He was married and added five kids to the population, / Which our Eugenist says was the right figure for a parent of his coevals ” ( Auden 26-27 ) : This still gives a obscure mention to how old he might be. Another mention to his age could be the fact that in the verse form Auden besides wrote, “ When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went ” ( Auden 25 ) : This individual most likely was in WWI which was fought from 1914-1918. WWII did non get down until 1939 and ended in 1945. Even with the obscure information of how old he could be, the reader still does non cognize what hobbies he had, things he liked to make with his household, or what his kids names, or ages were. His has no individuality for the reader to understand.
In decision, during the 1930s and ’40s life was simple and the criterions of life had a set of norms that were followed. The individual in “ The Unknown Citizen ” could hold been merely about anyone. To the authorities system he was a file figure that was merely known to the authorities. He had friends, maintained a occupation without doing jobs, and was married with kids. There are no specifying facets of his life that singled him out of his community. No 1 had anything bad to state about him or his work ethic. He is “ The Unknown Citizen ” . Carol Lawson puts it best when said “ ‘The Unknown Citizen, ‘ he represents the life his society values and records in his ‘metaphorical ‘ Bureau of Statistics files, files that hold facts but tell merely a partial narrative, go forthing much else in silence. ” Auden ‘s usage of imagination, dry tone, and subject presents the struggle of a adult male ‘s true individuality versus being a statistic of the authorities ; this prevents the reader from understanding who this individual is.
Auden, W.H. “ The Unknown Citizen. ” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and composing. 6th Compact erectile dysfunction. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Longman, 2010. 437-438. Print
Lawson, Carol “ The Unknown Citizen. ” Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition ( 2002 ) : Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 29 Jan. 2010.