Satire: Comedy and Unknown Citizen

Topics: Comedy, Government, W. H. Auden Pages: 2 (511 words) Published: November 16, 2013
Satire

Satire is writing that ridicules the faults of individuals, groups, institutions, society, culture, or even humanity in general. Although satire is often humorous, its purpose is not simply to make readers laugh but also to correct the shortcomings that it points out. Satire is therefore a form of persuasive writing. Sarcasm and irony are commonly used in satirical stories. A great example of satire lies in The Unknown Citizen by W. H. Auden. It is a dark satire about what can possibly happen if political and bureaucratic principles corrode the creative and revolutionary spirit of the individual. This poem ridicules the fact that government, or the people in control of the citizens of the US, know, or could find out anything and everything about a person. This creates the idea that people are reduced to a number, or a statistic, not a person. In The Unknown Citizen, the State or the government is described to have complete control over the people. They know many facts about a person, such as what they do for a living, if they pay their bills, if they are of sound mind or psychologically disturbed, and a lot of personal information for example when the person was in the hospital. However, the State or government does not know or care anything about that person’s feelings, and therefore the person becomes a number in the system instead of a person. A number in the beginning of the story and not a human name references the “Unknown Citizen”. The epigram reads, “To JS/07/M/378, this Marble Monument is erected by the State.” This is a striking metaphor for the individual being reduced down to a number. This poem describes an average citizen in a government-controlled state. This citizen is completely defined by his statistics, not by any of his personal qualities or feelings. He isn't even given a name but is referred to by a number. In many big cities, there is a monument to the Unknown Soldier that stands for the thousands of unknown soldiers who die for...
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