Just before the poem begins, an epigraph stating “To JS/07 M 378 This Marble Monument is Erected by the State” is clearly written, thus setting the stage for the entire situation surrounding the unknown citizen. The first portion of the epigraph, mentions a series of letters of numbers, which identifies the unknown citizen by reducing him down to a number. While it is unclear whether or not the numbers and letters actually reveal a part of the citizen’s lif...
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...o, a car and a frigidaire” (Auden 23-24). In these lines, however, not once are the essentials for survival mentioned; he has all the latest technology, but not one mention of food, clothing, and shelter. Thus, the unknown citizen’s life is dominated by what the State has decided to be necessary and believable, leaving little room for individual expression or thought.
Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” reveals the unfortunate reality about conformity and its consequences. The prophecy proclaimed in the poem, that individuals in society shall eventually succumb to the pressures of conformity, is exceedingly real as, in the modern world, government and government rule combine together as a machine to rid society of its outliers. All in all, this masterpiece captures the future of society and the individual’s eventual fate.
Auden, W.H. "The Unknown Citizen."
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