The Unknown Citizen Analysis

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“The Unknown Citizen,” written by W. H. Auden, is a poem that describes the life of man who lived a life that most people would see as ideal. The man illustrated by this poem did what society expected him to do which resulted in a model life. This poem, however, can be seen in more than one way. Some may see the story in the poem as a description of a man who had an unfulfilling life because he did only what was expected of him. Instead of trying something new, exploring the world, or making a change, the man did what everyone else did. W. H. Auden’s poem can be seen from two perspectives: the man who lived an ideal life that many people sought to have or the man who lived an unfulfilling, ordinary life which caused him to blend in with the…show more content…
Since the man simply fit in with the rest of society, he has become unknown. The title of the poem, “The Unknown Citizen,” hints at the idea that the man is not remembered by most of the world. Since he did not do anything unique or unordinary, he did not leave a mark that people would remember which would cause him to be unknown to most of the world. The man decided not take any risks or try with his life or try something adventurous. The speaker of the poem does ask the reader about how he or she feels about the man’s actions. The speaker says, “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: / Has anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard” (28-29). There was nothing necessarily wrong with the man’s life. However, he could have chosen to do something different with his life. If the man did something wrong, people would have heard, but if the man made a change in world, people would have also heard. People should not have to do what society expects in order to have a good, fulfilling life. The man had the opportunity to make a difference with his life, and instead he simply went through the motions and blended in with the rest of the world. The poem also describes that he did not divert from the norm in his views. The speaker states, “Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views” (9). Instead of thinking outside of the…show more content…
W. H. Auden’s poem, “The Unknown Citizen,” is a great example of this because one can find multiple meanings within the poem. One person could see the poem as a description of a perfect man while someone else could see the poem as a message to be unique and make a change in the world. Overall, the speaker in “The Unknown Citizen” describes the life of an unknown man, and there are many interpretations that can be discovered from the words of the
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