The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden

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The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden The Poem “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden is a satire. Its narrator is the state. In this, the state pays tribute and describes a successful and positive product of its efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, it builds the character later described to the reader as “the perfect citizen.” The narrator speaks as if he is delivering a speech or common tribute using words and phrases that are familiar to the reader. Using such imagery helps the reader paint a clear picture of the character. The subject or character is illustrated as a hardworking, common, tax paying, proud – to – be American citizen living in an obvious post Depression setting. The post Depression setting is key, as the reader knows during that time bracket in History, citizens went on the hunt for what was known as the “American Dream.” A driving force to recover and reinvent as well as the thirst to prosper. The government (or state, as described earlier) by use of statistics wanted to not only show, but also greatly embellish and make grand, its effectiveness and success in its recovery and prosper. The narrator takes a sincere yet ironically humorous approach in doing so. Humorous and ironic because the reader knows that no such person exists as the “perfect citizen” as described in this poem. It is found that the poem is set during the post depression and post war period. Supported by the picture painted in...

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