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Analysis of The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden

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Analysis of The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden

“The Unknown Citizen”, written by W.H. Auden during 1940, is a poem
where the speaker, a representative of the state or government,
directs a speech to the audience about a monument being erected for a
citizen. Written in free verse, although using many couplets, this
poem is a poem that describes the life of a certain person through his
records and documents. This citizen is portrayed as a normal and
average human being who is being honoured for being normal. Auden,
however, uses the fact that the state is honouring someone for being
normal to criticise his society. By emphasizing certain grammatical
conventions and the structure the author explains the true meaning of
this poem, and the unidentified citizen.

“The Unknown Citizen” is a poem that directs an epitaph to a common
man in the country. In honour of the monument for the citizen, a
speech is given as a tribute to his doings. This man is depicted as a
man who obeyed the law and never did anything incorrect, and he was
known for taking part in many government handled activities. He served
his duty in War, worked in Fudge Motors Inc., had a Health-card, and
never caused any sort of rebellion towards the state. This citizen had
an overall average life, where he was married and had five children.
Auden is writing about the state erecting a monument in honour of this
citizen’s doings as a great citizen in the community whom represented
many other people in the country.

This poem might seem to be very direct and clear; however, the author
does not literally mean what he wrote. The title, “The Unknown
Citizen”, is a reference to countries that erect a monument for the
“Unknown Soldier”; this is an honou...


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...aditionally sound according to the government, and since the Union is “sound” it is not really a Union. The sense of this poem depends greatly upon the tone, because literally the poem has a completely different connotation than it does if u considers the tone. The poet has a critical attitude towards this subject and it is clearly demonstrates once the reader analysis the poem.

W. H. Auden is a poet who portrays his emotions and feelings through his poetry, and in this certain poem, “The Unknown Citizen”, Auden criticises the state. He uses allusions and capitalization to make the reader understand the actual meaning of the poem and by adding the final couplet in the poem, Auden reaches tries to get the reader to think. Auden leaves the reader hanging and makes them think; is our society and government really totalitarian? Or is this how our government will be?


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