The Unknown CItizen Paper

This essay has a total of 737 words and 3 pages.

The Unknown CItizen

The Unknown Citizen
"The Unknown Citizen" by W.H. Auden, is a commentary on government and the materialism of
modern man. The poem is written in the form of an obituary inscribed on a monument built
by the government in commemoration of an average, upstanding, and decent community member.
Throughout the passage, the speaker lists facts about the citizen's life which he believes
prove that the deceased was a valuable person. In actuality these facts represent nothing
more than the socially accepted values and actions instilled in society by materialistic
views. This makes the government appear unconcerned with the true thoughts and feelings of
its people, seeing them only as statistics. We can see this in the subtitle "To
JS/07/M/378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State". The citizen is being referred
to by a number rather than a name.

Auden was very wise in choosing a title for this poem. The Unknown Citizen represents the
common man, singular in his desires and attitudes, respected for the same reasons. He is
unknown in the sense that his government and perhaps his peers were unaware of his true
emotions and ideals, only looking at his exterior image as he did what he believed he was
suppose to do. In the inscription the speaker portrays that the citizen lived a worthwhile
and happy life, basing this assumption on reports and facts gathered from sources such as
the Bureau of Statistics, the Press, and other government agencies. For the most part, the
citizen is praised for following the accepted pattern of conduct in his day, from fighting
in the War to being a hard worker and loyal union member to using a credit card. And if he
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