Motives of Adolf Hitler in Auden's Epitaph on a Tyrant and September 1, 1939

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Adolf Hitler was a very powerful man, and had a disturbing vision of how the world should be. W.H. Auden was interested in Adolf Hitler, and this interest can be seen in Auden’s poetry. September 1, 1939 and Epitaph on a Tyrant are two poems in which Auden scrutinizes Hitler’s actions. Auden uses symbolism in these two poems to illustrate the different aspects of Hitler’s life and actions.

To begin with, Epitaph on a Tyrant personified Hitler’s obsession with “perfection of a kind.” The obsession with “perfection” that Hitler held and the dream of a world where blonde hair and blue eyes ruled upset Auden. To attempt genocide on all non-Aryan races was an atrocity and Epitaph on a Tyrant embodied Auden’s emotions of the ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Nazis. Auden empathized with homosexuals, Jews, gypsies, and other minority groups who were the scapegoats of World War II. Auden himself was a homosexual, and for this reason felt saddened that Hitler would persecute people like him based on their sexual orientation.

Hitler controlled ever facet of Germany, exemplifying a judge, demanding order in Hitler’s court. The power that Hitler had was astounding and was accurately portrayed during Epitaph on a Tyrant. Hitler’s power knew no bounds and “when he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter.” Fear is instilled upon not only Germany’s citizens, but also in its government, when even the senators cannot oppose Hitler. They laugh not because Hitler is funny, but because they fear for their lives. There was only one god during the Third Reich, and that god was Hitler, worshipped by all. When Hitler laughs, everyone else does as well, because upsetting a god like Hitler was a very unpleasant scene.

Epitaph on a Tyrant...

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...eptember 1, 1939 shows that “What huge imago made / A psychopathic god.” The parenting that Hitler had led to his aggression and Auden demonstrates this through the symbolism in his poetry.

The symbolism that was used throughout Epitaph on a Tyrant and September 1, 1939 illustrate the many aspects of Adolf Hitler’s life and actions. The insights made by Auden on Hitler were numerous, and the examples given previously are few of many. Auden’s sympathy with those who were persecuted by the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party extended to his poetry. In Auden’s poetry, Auden gave reasons for why the Chancellor of Germany during the time of World War II was the way he was. The unspeakable crimes that Hitler committed drove Auden to delve into all aspects of Adolf’s life, searching for the truth of what made Germany’s only human God so terribly inhuman.

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