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‘The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Aden and “The Nonconformist” by Donald Davie

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We would think that in such a modern and developed world, people would be encouraged to express their individuality and independent way of thinking, but is that really so? Humans are social animals. As people, we live In a countless social structure, placing a strong emphasis on our need to belong and have strong relationships. Because Of these needs we Often end up agreeing with thoughts or opinions that do not convey our real feelings.

This paper will discuss ‘The Unknown Citizen” by W.

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H. Aden and “The Nonconformist” by Donald Davie, two emotional and thought provoking poems that share many similarities in which the main theme can be interpreted as humans conforming to society and religion and the quality of life that can be attained by living life with the standards expected from us. The poem, ‘The Unknown Citizen” portrays from the point of view of the government what or how an ideal citizen should look like.

According to the narrator an ideal or saint citizen is one who follows the rules established by the government precisely, a person doesn’t reveal or stand out of the altitude in other words someone who doesn’t question rules and just goes with the flow.

“He was found by the bureau of statistics to be one against whom there was no official complaint. ” (Aden, pig. 443). The poems message is that the government although it actively collects statistics and has a large file of information about any given person and never fully understands who that person is.

The statistics of a citizen are minimal and understanding the needs of fulfillment and views of that citizen. However rather than a message about the complexity of the human being the poem is a criticism of the state re shown by the sarcastic lines. ‘Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: had anything been wrong, we should have certainly have heard (Aden pig. 444). By asking these questions the poet is drawing our attention to the question of freedom and happiness.

This poem is a bitter attack on modern society and its indifference towards individual¶y’ and identity. The only way for an individual to survive in the society described in the poem is to conform, obey and live in perpetual mental slavery. Likewise in the poem “The Nonconformist” by Donald Davie the main point is hat conforming to society and other people is easily done. It is pointed out that a true non-conformist does the opposite Of what is expected of him, when conforming seems like the easiest option.

The two last lines of the poem bring impact by “When to conform is easy, to dissent; and when it is most difficult, conform? (Davie pig. 447). People know that conforming to a group is important and maintaining orders of social behavior. We value conformity to survive in our society. But what is conformity? It is the tendency to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors in ways that are in agreement tit those of a particular individual or group or, how a person should behave in a specific situation.

In an individualistic culture, such as that of the United States confirmation is viewed as something negative, however as society we still need to be connected with others, thus people conform to the opinion of others and yield to social norms. “How else explain this bloody-minded bent to kick against the pricking of the norm (Davie pig. 447). The author asks in the poem and unconsciously we know that deep inside we want to rebel against tradition. The language that both authors use to convey their themes is very simple. In both poems the last lines reveal the main theme.

Where we ask ourselves the questions if we live happier by conforming to social and religious rules. However the tone of both authors is different. In the unknown Citizen the tones sounds like a call to an acceptance to the flaw in human existence. We Want to be accepted and we conform to fit in without questioning the reasons behind the rules. On the other hand in the Non- Conformist the poem seems like a call to action; the author questions if society will ever accept dissent or we will ever dare to publicly disagree with an official opinion, decision, or set of beliefs.

Cite this ‘The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Aden and “The Nonconformist” by Donald Davie

‘The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Aden and “The Nonconformist” by Donald Davie. (2017, Jul 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-unknown-citizen-by-w-h-aden-and-the-nonconformist-by-donald-davie/

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