The poem the unknown citizen written by w. h Auden portrays from the point of view of the government what or how an ideal citizen should look like. This piece is written in third person omniscient to project a non-bias perspective and that way transmit the “truth” without being affected by feelings or personal point of views. Moreover at the end of the poem the author makes a relevant turn which effect is making the reader question himself if what was depicted before is the right thing, if that ideal or concept about how the life of a person must be indertaken is right or wrong.
In addition to that significant turn of events in the culminating point of the poem, the tittle is also intentionally written in such a way to create a contrast with the development of the composition and transmit in an implicit way the question if what the government wants is the correct thing. According to the narrator, an ideal or saint citizen is that who follows the rules established by the government precisely, a person that doesn’t reveal or stand out of the multitude an “unknown citizen”.
That, in the modern sense of an old fashioned word, he was saint” this specific line portrays how the government has become the new divinity instead of god, how it is the one able to change the meaning of such a word and assign it to people aswell. A person that follows the commandments is considered a saint, so a citizen that follows the rules is considered a “saint” as well. In other words this line suggests that the government is replacing god. and had everything necessary to the modern man, a phonograph, a radio, a car and a Frigidaire” this line is a form of criticism that the author employs protesting over how the identity of the man is essentially dehumanized by new technologies, society is worried about having all those kind of stuff “ that make them happy” instead or realizing that that is what the government want, conformity and shaping them into capitalism. In this poem, people have become noting more than commodities that must fulfill their roles for the wheel to turn. Conformity has created apathetic and obedient citizens which is exactly what the government wants.
Throughout the poem Auden employs irony and other literary devices like symbolisms and metaphors with the aim of criticizing the whole society who has become a government’s puppet. In it, he speaks out about how anonymous the man has become. This citizen is completely defined by his statistics, not by any of his qualities or feelings. The person that is being described in the poem doesn’t even get a name, He is just referred to by a number giving it the quality of an object “he was found by the bureau of statistics to be One against whom there was no official complaint”.
This poem is a wakeup call about the dangers of modern society which is allowing governmental agencies to reduce them into homologous numbers, an awareness that too much control is dangerous. In summary the unknown citizen written by w h Audrey is a sarcastic poem that portrays from the point of view of the government or power how an ideal citizen must behave or do. With an intentional us of language like irony and sarcasm he reflects in an implicit way that such perceptions are wrong and creates an awareness to the modern society who is becoming over conformist to end with the dangerous control the government is gaining.
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