The Unknown Citizen : W.H. Auden - Summary and Critical Analysis
| The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden is a satiric poem. It describes an average citizen in a government-controlled state. In many big cities, there is a monument to the Unknown Soldier that stands for the thousands of unknown soldiers who die for their country. The title of Auden’s poem parodies this.
| The citizen to whom the monument has been built has been found to be without any fault. He was a saint not because he searched for God but because he served the government perfectly. He did not get dismissed form his job. He was a member of the Union and paid all his dues to the union. A report on the Union shows that it was a balance union and did not take extreme views on anything. The social psychology workers found that he was popular among his fellow workers and had a drink with them now and then. He also bought a newspaper everyday. He reached to the advertisements normally.
| He had good health and although he went to hospital once, he came out quite cured. The citizen was sensible about buying things on an installment basis. He had everything a modern man needed at home. Moreover, this ideal citizen was found to be sensible in his view. When there was peace, he supported it. But when there was war, he was ready to fight. He didn’t hold his personal views on anything. He had the right number of children and he did not quarrel with the education they got. The poet now asks the important questions. Was this man free? Was he happy? No government statistics can ever answer these kinds of questions. ‘The Unknown Citizen’ is a typical Auden’s poem in that it shows the poet’s profound concern for the modern world and its problems. A keen intelligent observer of the contemporary scene, Auden was one of the first to realize that the totalitarian socialist state would be no Utopia and that man there would be reduced to the position of a cog in the wheel. A citizen will have...
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